Friday, April 19, 2013

Midway Auction Co. set to open Tuesday if council OKs rezoning Monday; city budget talk is also on agenda

Story and photos by Nini Edwards
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

UPDATE, April 22: The City Council unanimously approved the second reading to rezone Clark’s property from industrial to business this morning. His first auction will be tomorrow.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said neighbors of Clark’s building are  concerned about parking on auction days. Clark assured Vandegrift that the lot to the left of and behind his building has 32,000 square feet and is ready for parking. He said his people will be out an hour prior to the auction directing traffic and setting out orange cones, and he will hand out a notation flyer to the neighborhood with his cell phone number so people can call him directly if there is a problem.

Clark said he would like residents on the street to park parallel during auctions, because diagonal parking can make the street one lane.  He was firm about protecting his neighbors, saying, “We are going to be onsite and make sure nobody is affected.”

Keith Clark outside the building that is to be his auction house.
Midway's new auction house is one step away from opening after the City Council held first reading this morning of a resolution to change the property’s zoning from industrial to business.

The second reading will be Monday, April 22 at 8:30 a.m. That’s when the council will have another special meeting, mainly to see Mayor Tom Bozarth’s proposed budget, but also just in time for the first auction.

Keith Clark, owner of the business and The Grey Goose restaurant, said he failed to realize the time needed for the required two readings to change the zoning. The council held a brief special meeting this morning on his behalf to give it first reading.

Clark was appreciative of the mayor calling a meeting because he is planning to open Midway Auction Co. for its first auction on Tuesday, April 23 at the corner of Warfield and Gratz streets.

The 24,000-square-foot metal building is already filled with restaurant equipment, furniture and house d├ęcor from wall to wall. "There is all kinds of crazy stuff in here," Clark said. "There is a fat belt that makes you shake, and that is in perfect condition."

He is still unsure how often he will hold auctions, but said he would like to hold one every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with inspection starting at noon.
Clark said his auctions will create more business for downtown and is hoping to attract at least 100 people to his first auction. He is enthusiastic about his venture, saying it is "low impact, generates traffic for the city, it's 'green' and it is fun."

Clark has been a business owner since 1986. He owns Clark Communications Consultants, where he works on telephone and equipment systems. He was one of the original owners of Cheapside Bar and Grill in Lexington, and now owns The Grey Goose in Lexington and Midway.

Clark said he and his wife Cheri bought the warehouse in Midway a year ago with hopes to quickly turn it into a business. His partner in the auction venture is auctioneer  Tom Biederman of Biederman Real Estate and Auctioneers of Lexington. "He is putting in the auction expertise and I'm providing the real estate and that is our partnership," Clark said.

Clark has his signs ready for the rezoning to go through Monday.
Though he is a restaurateur, Clark does not intend to involve himself with food service at the auction house, but plans to have a food truck to come to the auctions.

He has never owned an auction house, but Clark is familiar with auctions through buying used restaurant equipment, which he said "is notoriously low in value after it is used for about 15 minutes." He said he bought equipment to grow his Grey Goose restaurants and opened his Midway restaurant in fourteen days. This location was formerly The Black Tulip and Duggan's.

The restaurant shares a name with a vodka, the maker of which has been supportive of Clark’s restaurant, he said. As long as he was selling their product and not making his own, he said, they didn’t mind him using the name. Sending him a box of promotional items and umbrellas for his tables was a way to show their support. Clark says he sells a lot of Grey Goose vodka because people associate it with the restaurant name.

Clark has aspirations to partner with the city clean up the land behind his 1.3-acre property along Lee’s Branch behind the warehouse, saying "The more of this you expose to the public the greater attention is paid to its cleanlineess."

Joking about his drive to start new projects, Clark said, "I am definitely a timeless guy; there is no clock on me at this point."

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