Tuesday, March 26, 2019

EDA lines up 3 property sales, hires help to clean up Midway Station, seeks more highway-business zoning

A mapping projection showed the new, 4-acre lot to be created.
Midway Station, once a failure as an industrial park, appears to be turning into a success after all.

Directors of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the tract north of Interstate 64, approved three tentative sales of property at their meeting Friday and took steps to make the property more attractive to prospects.

"We've only had ownership of this property for six weeks, and we've got three options," departing director William Downey remarked. The EDA has always owned the property, but until Feb. 7 the unsold parcels were optioned to Lexington developer Dennis Anderson in return for his payment of interest on the property's mortgages, giving him effective control of it.

Anderson had hoped to make a commercial and residential development of Midway Station, but the renewed interest of industries in the property and nearby tracts turned it back into an industrial park, and he terminated his option.

"Since he's left, the phone has been ringing off the hook with folks who want to come to Midway Station," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told a homeowners' meeting in Northridge Estates tonight.

At Friday's EDA meeting, directors authorized Chair John Soper to grant options to:
  • Dan Price, $208,000 for 3.33 acres for use as a marine sales and service facility facing the interstate, with 10 initial jobs and 15 by the second year, pending rezoning. Soper said Planning and Zoning Administrator Pattie Wilson "was as instrumental" in the sale as anyone. "She presents the way we can do business in Woodford County that is really user-friendly."
  • Barnhill Chimney Co. of Lexington, which plans to pay $162,300 for 2.49 acres for a facility to manufacture chimney caps. Soper said only four other companies in the nation make the caps, and Barnhill plans to have seven to 10 employees at opening, 10 to 15 in a year and could have 30 in five years. Soper said EDA had another prospect for the lot but "We gotta go with someone who's willing to do a contract, especially with the possibility of jobs."
  • Imperial Asphalt of Frankfort, $130,000 for 4 acres in a lot to be created at the sharp turn at the east end of McKinney Avenue, in an area not originally platted for development. Soper said the company has excavation equipment that it can use to reshape the area. Because the property does not have a price that has to be met in order to get a mortgage release for banks to which EDA is indebted, "This four acres would go into operating cash," Soper said, "which really gives us some breathing room." He said Imperial Asphalt owner Seth Christian will use the property for equipment storage, will have seven employees there, and will not manufacture asphalt at the location. "He said he'd been watching this development since he was in high school and wants to be part of it," Soper said.
None of the deals required any price negotiation, Soper said, but one buyer hesitated, saying the property looked "blighted" because of high grass, weeds, trash and broken concrete.

Soper said that once Vandegrift explained the history of Midway Station, the buyer agreed to take an option. (EDA is using the option route to make the sales dependent on zoning and other land-use approvals, and tests to show that the tracts are feasible for the planned developments.)

Soper said the "deferred maintenance" at the property needs action so it will "look like it's seriously somebody trying to sell property and standing behind what they sell." He said HMB Engineers, which designed the development, had lined up Buchanan Contracting of Mount Sterling to do the work.

"Ordinarily, I would like to bid this stuff, but quite honestly, I don't think we have the time," Soper said. "Time is of the essence." He said the City of Midway had agreed to to the initial mowing, and would be reimbursed. "I really appreciate what Midway's doing for us," he said. Buchanan's original quote included $3,500 for initial mowing and trimming and $2,500 for monthly mowing; those were deducted from the deal, leaving a price of $11,970.

Director Paul Schreffler asked if crews from the Woodford County Jail could do some of the work, and Soper said he would look into that. Then the directors approved a motion for Buchanan Contracting to do the work within 45 days.

The directors also approved a motion to seek zone changes that would eliminate any property zones for professional offices, which had been seen as a buffer between industries and commercial businesses, zoned B-5 for highway business. "The inquiries we're getting are going to be B-5 or light industry," Soper said.

The changes would add more B-5 lots, which could help attract a hotel. Anderson has a lot on the other side of the interstate, in the Green Gables development, that has long been platted for a hotel, but Vandegrift said a year ago that Anderson had priced it too high to sell. Anderson disputed that.

After meeting for almost an hour and a half in the Fiscal Court room of the county courthouse, the directors went into a closed session to discuss property sales. They allowed Maria Bohanan, whom the City of Versailles had appointed to fill Downey's position when he departs, to attend.

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