Last Friday, we presented to our Board of Trustees our vision to transform a critical entrance to our campus, make critical progress on our Transportation Master Plan (TMP), and further support our community’s needs as we move forward with a public-private-partnership (P3) pre-development agreement with the Signet Real Estate Group.
In 2017, we initiated a transformative town-gown real-estate deal with a private developer involving several key parcels of land. That land swap gave the University ownership of the property that formerly housed Kennedy’s Bookstore and Fazoli’s, on the corner of South Limestone and Winslow Street, along Winslow Street to the South Upper Street intersection.
Since that time, we have engaged with stakeholders across our campus and in Lexington to determine the best use for this important property and entryway into campus.
When we think about transforming this area—or any area of our campus—we ask ourselves a key question: how can we use this space to best support our community’s success?
To set the context, our student body has grown dramatically over the past several years, from approximately 28,000 in academic year 2011-12, to more than 30,200 in academic year 2018-19. The northern part of our campus has been central to supporting that growth, as nearly 2,400 students live in residence halls on north campus. The new, state-of-the-art Gatton Student Center, a cornerstone of our campus transformation, is also located on north campus.
Transportation Services has made great progress implementing the TMP in recent years, including award winning investments in alternative transportation such as buses, bikes, pedestrian improvements, and innovative financial incentives, as well as the construction of well over 2,000 new parking spaces since 2015.
Transforming the Winslow property will allow us to provide much-needed additional parking capacity on the north side of campus, by expanding parking structure 5 to include more than 900 new spaces. These additional parking spaces will further improve mobility to, from, and around campus for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
In addition, the ground floor of this expanded mixed-use facility will provide space to further enhance the north side of our campus. For instance, we are exploring how we might house innovation space and private retail space—the kind of venues that we know enhance community and belonging for our campus. The ground floor mix, which will be determined in the coming months, could include 15,000-25,000 square feet for:
- Mixed-use retail space, which could include a full-service restaurant and bar,
- Office and support space for UK faculty and staff, and
- Innovation space that could house an app development technology partnership and/or an e-sports initiative and program for students.
A multi-story external media wall will also enhance the university’s smart-campus efforts.
The innovation space we expect to develop is particularly exciting. Already, our students, faculty and staff are collaborating, creating and operating on the cutting-edge of technology development. This innovation hub would anchor our role at the intersection of creativity and technology.
That’s what facilities enable us to do—support and grow the important work already occurring on our campus.
The P3 project also aligns with further development of the area, including the adaptive re-use and re-imagining of key properties like the Reynolds Building for the College of Design and existing space nearby for the College of Fine Arts.
We plan to begin demolition on the site in March with a goal of project completion by August 2020.
This project is an exciting component of our campus transformation. It’s another way we are delivering on our promise to support our community’s success.
After all, as the University for Kentucky, we have a vision for how we can do more—be more—for the state we serve. Facilities in general, and this project in particular, fuel those aspirations, by supporting our people.
Thank you for your role in that vision.
Have a great week.
Eric N. Monday