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Land Swap Could Open Door To Additional UK Parking, Luxury Student Housing

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A recently announced land swap deal will give the University of Kentucky control of two coveted pieces of property on Winslow Street.

Under the agreement, UK will take over two parcels of land between South Limestone and South Upper Streets, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The block currently houses Kennedy bookstore and a dormant Fazoli's location. Although the school has no specific plans for the parcels just yet, UK spokesman Jay Blanton says their proximity to parking structure #5 could allow UK to expand.

"Certainly parking is among the options that we'll be looking at. Could be mixed-use, could be retail, could be any number of things," he adds.

In return, UK will hand over a 150-space parking lot on Jersey Street and several other pieces of property at the corner of Virginia and Limestone to Chicago-based Core Spaces, a high-end student housing developer. The company is eyeing the land for mixed-use retail and housing developments. That’s likely to require zoning changes, which UK is promising to support.

Asked if the potential housing units, along with UK’s newer dorms, could price some potential students out of the market, Blanton says affordability and access remain top priorities for the school.

"We're sensitive about that, but we're vigilant about maintaining that," he says. "I would argue that... the developer's interest in the institution, as expressed by Core Spaces, makes clear the value of the UK brand and the vibrancy of the Lexington community."

Core Spaces' vision for the sites is still in the planning stage, but the company has built hotel-style off campus housing – with hot tubs, saunas, and even golf simulators – near other major universities.

The total estimated value of the swapped properties is around $4.5 million, according to officials.

University and city leaders are applauding the deal, which they say will improve the commercial corridors around UK and create jobs.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.