Continuing our Campus Transformation

Monday, June 19, 2017

The opportunity to do something transformative – and with far-reaching impact -- doesn’t happen every day. When it does, it’s critical to seize the moment.

And, as always, when that moment arrives, taking full of advantage of it takes partners and teamwork.

That opportunity, though, is what our Board of Trustees and President Capilouto recognized late last week when they unanimously approved UK’s ability to move ahead with a complex real-estate transaction, involving several parcels of land. The deal could help continue the revitalization of an already vibrant downtown Lexington. And, for UK, it creates the opportunity to do something creative along a critical section of land in the heart of our campus that serves as a key entryway into our community.

Here’s what will occur:

  • UK will receive ownership of two parcels of well-known land along a block located on the southwest side of Winslow Street, bordered by South Limestone and South Upper streets. The parcels sit next to Parking Structure 5, one of the most heavily used parking areas on our campus.
  • Core Spaces — a Chicago-based real estate company — has purchase and sales agreements on the parcels. These parcels represent a critical entryway into the university campus, particularly as the last phase of the Newtown Pike extension is being completed.  The parcels of land could be utilized for several important initiatives and needs, from parking to retail and mixed-use. The campus will begin a process over the next few months with multiple stakeholders to determine the best use for this important property and entryway into campus.

We all know this area has become a hub of activity and creative energy in our campus core. UK’s student body has increased by 15 percent in the last six years to an all-time high last fall of about 30,200 students. UK’s north campus has been a central point of growth and transformation over the last several years. About 2,300 students live in residence halls on north campus. Good Samaritan Hospital already has treated about 7,000 patients this year. The Singletary Center for the Arts is home to a vibrant art museum and busy entertainment and performance venue. And, in 2018, the university will open a new state-of-the-art Student Center that will serve as the living room for the campus.

  • Core Spaces, in return, will receive two properties currently owned by UK. The first parcel is the parking lot at Jersey Street, which UK acquired in 2009 as part of the purchase of Good Samaritan Hospital. Core Spaces is interested in developing retail and boutique student housing at the location, along with parking to support the development.
  • Core Spaces also will receive a parcel of land from UK, located at Virginia Avenue and South Limestone, on which it plans to develop student housing. UK also will work to acquire and transfer ownership of one additional parcel of land at Maxwelton Court to Core Spaces that would support the Virginia and Limestone development.

As Mayor Gray said about the transaction: “This is a big win, one that represents two additional major investments in Lexington. We’re excited to have more mixed-use development that’s a short walk to downtown and campus.”

This transaction will continue that transformation and, in partnership with the city of Lexington, will help enhance critical corridors in and around the campus and on major transportation arterials near downtown. As always, with anything of significance, several people worked diligently and for long hours on this project, including two senior officials in my office, George Ward and Melody Flowers. I’m appreciative of their tireless and creative efforts, along with so many others on our team, with the city and with Core Spaces.

Under President Capilouto’s leadership and that of our Board of Trustees, we have moved strategically and intentionally over the last six years to transform living, learning, research, and health care buildings and spaces across our campus. In doing so, we have transformed our campus on behalf of those we serve – our students, our faculty and our staff.

By being creative and strategic – with a vision for what the future can be – we get the opportunity through this transaction to continue that transformation. Now, it’s up to all of us, as a campus community, to make the most of that chance.

I look forward to engaging with our campus community in the coming weeks and months to discuss how best we can move forward to seize this moment.


Eric N. Monday