UK Board Approves Historic Land Swap

Photo of potential concept of the future of Rose Street.
One of several potential concepts for the future of Rose Street if UK controls it, benefiting safety and making campus more pedestrian friendly.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2017) – The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees today approved a proposal for a potentially historic land swap with the city of Lexington that would create jobs and economic development, provide additional internship and career opportunities for UK students, and increase safety in and around the campus.

The land swap would involve UK conveying two parcels of land totaling 250 acres to Lexington Fayette Urban County Government in and near the university’s Coldstream Research Campus.

In exchange, the city would turn over control to UK of several important roads totaling about 13.5 acres in and around the campus, including Rose Street, Hilltop Avenue, and part of Woodland Avenue, among others.

“As the University for Kentucky, our mission is to serve – our students, our economy and the communities that comprise this state,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “That mission of service is particularly important to the community that we call home. The futures of Lexington and the University of Kentucky are inextricably tied, and this proposed swap is an example of how partnerships can create progress for everyone, from the safety of our students, faculty and staff to the jobs and economic development that a thriving community like Lexington is poised to create.”

Specifically, UK under the proposal would convey to the city 50 “shovel-ready” acres of land within the Coldstream Research Campus. Another 200 acres near Coldstream and the city’s existing business park also would be conveyed for future development. Lexington city and economic development officials say the community is currently out of land for development needs within the urban service boundary.

Months ago, city and university officials began discussing the potential of a land swap and how it could benefit both the community and the campus.

UK and the city also are working together to create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District at Coldstream to further stimulate development. Already, over 50 organizations employing more than 2,100 people are at Coldstream. In a TIF district, tax revenues generated by new development can be reinvested back into the district’s infrastructure to accelerate its growth.

UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday said one of the key interests for UK in working on the land swap was the opportunity to play a part in economic development that would expand job and internship opportunities for students. Moreover, as the campus continues to grow, the ability to invest in and improve key roads in and around the university is critically important.

For example, as the university assumes control of a number of roads – such as Rose Street, portions of which have been closed for several years – it would create with the city a “University City Transportation Safety Plan.” The city and UK have committed funding over the next several years to improve safety and transportation on the roads involved in the swap.       

Kentucky Finance Secretary William M. Landrum III last week approved the conveyance of land from the university to the city. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is expected to consider the land swap at a meeting in January. The move already has been endorsed by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

“This proposed swap represents a true win-win for the university and for the community of Lexington,” said Britt Brockman, chair of the UK board. “It provides the opportunity right away to create jobs and that, in turn, creates further opportunities for our students, many of whom want to stay in Lexington to live, work and raise a family. At the same time, we can work in partnership with the city to improve safety and transportation on a campus that is growing in size and service to the community and state.”

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue