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[Lexington] Ellerslie Place

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Bell Court area infill planned

Map of the proposed development

Note: From the design of the project, it seems as if this is the same developer who built the condos along Martin Luther King Blvd. and CenterCourt.

Notes --

1. The developer is proposing a 126-unit mixed-use project in the Bell Court neighborhood. It would be located between Walton Avenue and Midland Avenue (US 60), and vary from four to five stories with a horseshoe-shaped design.

1a. The building would be four stories closest to Boonesboro, and five stories towards Winchester Road. (south to north)

1b. A road would be constructed connecting Walton to Midland. Although it does not require a traffic study, the developer is conducting one anyways.

2. The developer has already asked for a zone change to allow residential, neighborhood business and professional offices on 5 grassy acres.

3. A previous plan in 1995 by a social service agency asked that the land become 52 low-income townhouses -- which led some to accuse neighbors in Bell Court of elitism and racism. Other plans included shopping centers, warehouses and light industry.

4. The units would mostly be one-bedroom condos with a starting price of $170,000.

4a. There would also be 15,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space.

5. A covered parking area under the units would be provided, however, there would be a small surface lot nearby.

6. The city's planning staff thinks that the infill is appropriate for the site and is recommending approval to the Planning Commission.

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Article information: "Bell Court area infill planned, By Beverly Fortune, Herald Leader, May 10, 2007"

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This is a different developer. the MLK and CenterCourt projects were built by BoulevardCentro and David Furman.

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Gotcha. From the renderings, which I didn't get a close look at until tonight's meeting, looked very similar to the other two developments. There are a lot of carryover characteristics, which is not necessarily bad.

Here are my notes from today's meeting --

1. The horseshoe shaped complex is not continuous. The main building is actually three separate structures -- above ground. Below ground is a continuous horseshoe shaped parking garage.

2. There is an existing professional office structure that is two stories. This will be converted into first floor retail/office and second floor residential. The building has been there since 1999.

3. There are 252 parking spaces total; 220 is what is required, so some parking (hopefully) will be eliminated.

4. The property was zoned B-1, and is being petitioned for MU-3, or Mixed-Use.

4a. The property has also idled for ~20 years. Over the years, a shopping center, grocery store, and gas station have been planned for the land, among other ideas.

5. The next meeting is May 24 at 1:30 at the Government Center.

I will scan in larger versions of the renderings and a site map tomorrow.

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:thumbsup:

That works just as well! Were you at the meeting last night per chance?

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Gotcha. From the renderings, which I didn't get a close look at until tonight's meeting, looked very similar to the other two developments. There are a lot of carryover characteristics, which is not necessarily bad.

Here are my notes from today's meeting --

1. The horseshoe shaped complex is not continuous. The main building is actually three separate structures -- above ground. Below ground is a continuous horseshoe shaped parking garage.

2. There is an existing professional office structure that is two stories. This will be converted into first floor retail/office and second floor residential. The building has been there since 1999.

3. There are 252 parking spaces total; 220 is what is required, so some parking (hopefully) will be eliminated.

4. The property was zoned B-1, and is being petitioned for MU-3, or Mixed-Use.

4a. The property has also idled for ~20 years. Over the years, a shopping center, grocery store, and gas station have been planned for the land, among other ideas.

5. The next meeting is May 24 at 1:30 at the Government Center.

I will scan in larger versions of the renderings and a site map tomorrow.

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You had a select few that was totally opposed. Two I believe fell into that category, skeptical from the get-go. From the elderly woman who was afraid of being "peeped" on while she sunbathed in her backyard to the elderly man (husband and wife?) who wanted a full scale, hand-built model. He also hated computer models because they were inaccurate and could be "falsified", plus they would be projected on "television screens" and could be "skewed" to exaggerate a building's (lack of) height. Both were kind of abrupt and got a few chuckles out of the attendees.

Another -- I believe the same man, in fact -- wanted "50 ft" trees to shade the backyards. He looked at the rendering -- which showed an 8 ft. fence and a 15 ft. shade tree (5-10 years into their life), and said essentially "I want that there from the beginning!" Sorry buddy, you can't just rip a maturing tree from one location and transplant it -- doesn't work that way!

But the vast majority (I'd say 98%) want this project to go forward. The residents of the central Lexington area spoke up a few years ago and they want to build up, construct infill projects, and revitalize neighborhoods. What was once planned for this vacant, grass lot was a suburban-style grocery store, and other incompatible neighborhood uses.

The main concern overall was the height. Some expressed concern over the fifth floor of the center building, stating that you could have a breach of privacy into people's backyards across the road, tree line and fence. Others brought up parking issues -- the excess parking, not the lack of -- and the redesign of a parking lot. On the plot above, some parallel parking spaces were modified into perpendicular parking spaces on the "main road". Another concern was the fast-pace of the meetings -- the next meeting is May 24 at the government center, which is quite quick.

Construction on a project like this won't begin for another 7-8 months at the earliest.

--

My concerns:

1. Although they have not finalized what they want to do with the retention basin, it currently shows a triangular grass depression. I would like to see this filled with some water where a small fountain could be placed. A circular walkway would be ideal, along with other vegetation that would be compatible with the landscape.

2. The perpendicular parking areas in front of the horseshoe, and along the "main road" should be made parallel. The two-row parking area to the right of the building should be reconfigured into a through-street with parallel parking, which would open up some green space.

3. Pedestrian connectivity should be increased. The center courtyard has four sidewalks radiating in four different directions. The front connects to the front entrance of the building, while two others connect into an asphalt parking lot. The last one connects to nothing -- just asphalt.

4. #2 and #3 will lead to some reduction in parking, but there is a surplus as it is. Walton Avenue has on-street parking, which should be enhanced with visible parking stripes. Traffic calming measures, such as bulb-outs, speed humps, and other traffic calming elements should be installed.

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[Personal note: I see the vultures decided to make an appearance upon notice of the last public hearing...]

Bell Court neighbors will oppose condo development (Online version no longer available.)

By Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader, September 5, 2007

The Bell Court Neighborhood Association will oppose a zone change for Ellerslie Place, a proposed high-density residental infill project adjacent to the historic neighborhood. The opposition is a reversal in decision by the group earlier in the summer not to block the project. The primary concerns are traffic and the height of the four- and five-story buildings. The president of the neighborhood group recently received 15 e-mails from residents opposed to the project, most coming after the final public hearing notice was filed.

The neighborhood association wants the project capped at three stories, and has hired two attorneys to represent its view. The $37 million project, approved in June by the LFUCG Planning Commission, would feature 126 one- and two-bedroom units, 25,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, and an underground parking structure. The residential condos are expected to be priced in the $190,000 to $235,000 range. The project would be laid out in a U-shape, where two buildings will be four-stories and one would be five-stories, and would face a one-acre courtyard.

Because of Bell Court's concerns, the five-story building is set back 280 feet from the closest house on Boonesboro; the required setback is 65 feet. Taking down the buildings to three and four stories would kill the project, eliminating 48 units, leaving 78, making the project not economically feasible.

The five-acre proposed site is bounded by Walton Avenue, Midland Avenue and Winchester Road, and wold have to access points: on Walton and Midland. Yards of houses on Boonesboro Avenue back up to the site.

Developers Ernie and Brian Hanna are seeking a zone change from business and light industrial to the new urban designation of mixed use, MU-3, which permits residential, commercial and professional uses. A public hearing on the zone change is scheduled for September 18.

Bell Court neighbors are also concerned about traffic from the development cutting through side streets, such as Boonesboro. A traffic study paid for by the developers, while not required for the project, indicates motorists would save 30 to 60 seconds by using Boonesboro to Main instead of Walton to Main. The development would generate 1,400 traffic trips per day.

The property is currently zoned B-1, which would generate far more traffic and impact than Ellerslie Place. Only a few years ago, a grocery store and retail center was planned for the site and had little opposition, and prior to that, low-income townhouses for single women.

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Bell Court condo plan gets council's approval: Groundbreaking expected next summer

By Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader, September 19, 2007

The Urban County Council unanimously approved Ellerslie Place last night that is adjacent to the historic Bell Court neighborhood.

Developers Ernie and Brian Hanna were seeking a zone change to permit a $37 million residential and commercial development on a vacant five-acre track only one block from downtown, between Walton and Midland avenues. The land has been vacant for 20 years. The development will have 126 residential units priced between $170,000 to over $200,000, and will be built in three sections varying from four- to five-stories.

The project will take approximately nine months to fully design and the project will groundbreak next summer.

Ellerslie Place will have two entrances from Walton and Milton. Initial concerns were levied against the development due to increased traffic through Bell Court via Boonesboro. Bobby Clark, president of the Bell Court Neighborhood Association, said that traffic problems would be created because the development allowed only right turns out onto Walton, but it was later discovered in the meeting that the information was incorrect and Clark apologized. The development, however, will have only right turns at Midland.

Another concern was the height of the buildings, with some neighbors complaining that their backyards will adjoin the Ellerslie property. They asked that the development be capped at three stories, and later at four, but it would have made the development not economically feasible.

The infill development project was approved by the city's professional planning staff earlier in the year, and in June by the Planning Commission.

Ellerslie Place is the first major project proposed since the Planning Commission voted in January not to expand the Urban Service Boundary. The commission agreed to hold the line on suburban expansion into Fayette County's farms and force more density downtown.

Attorney Bruce Simpson, who represents the developers, stated that "rural land is more valuable than any other kind of land except downtown land. We can't afford to compromise on density. We need more density downtown."

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