Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Midway Station project awaits technical review

By Matt Jordan
UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Redevelopment of the Midway Station industrial park into a residential and commercial community is moving according to the expected timeline, Mayor Tom Bozarth said this week.

Bozarth said now that the city council has voted to rezone the property to allow for the construction of 600 new homes, the only thing city officials are waiting on is the technical review by the Woodford County planning staff.

Anderson Communities has purchased the right to develop the industrial park for the sum of $6 million. The contract was signed earlier this year, contingent upon passage of the rezoning. Now the only barrier to be overcome is the technical review, which Bozarth anticipates should happen on or around Jan. 1.

Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities declined to be interviewed on when he expected to turn in the papers for technical review or begin redevelopment.

The council approved the rezoning Sept. 29 by a vote of 5-1, after months of deliberation. The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended rezoning on the condition that the development be limited to the construction of no more than 50 homes per year.

Ed Lane, a Lexington real estate agent and publisher of The Lane Report, a publication on real estate and other business in Kentucky, said he feels optimistic about developer Anderson's plan and considers him a "very good builder" to tackle this project. And though the real estate market in America is currently on the rocks, Lane said that might actually help this project.

"With the development in Midway, that's going to be a 10- to 15-year deal," Lane said. "Actually it may be a good time to start when the market is at its lowest and you start out slowly. They're not going to go in and build all those houses; they're going to build them in chunks."

Lane also pointed to a few indicators that make him think the project will succeed. He cited Midway's high number of commuters, quality of life and close proximity to Lexington as factors that will likely fill up some of the newly constructed homes. An average home in Fayette County costs about $140,000, he says, and low property values in Midway could play a factor in selling some homes. And though he says home construction is at about 50 percent of what it was a year ago, he expects that the market will likely improve one year from now. Also, the small size of Midway has led to stability and room for expansion.

"Woodford County has got the lowest unemployment rate in Kentucky and they've got a real shortage of houses there," Lane said. "I would be optimistic that they could do well."

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