North campus parking is shrinking and local businesses don’t like it


UK permanently closed the Jersey Street lot on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. The lot was an E lot located on north campus in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Rick Childress

Near-campus restaurants say that the recent closure of the Jersey St. parking lot will slow down business in the area.

UK announced last week that the 112-space parking lot, which sits north of campus behind McDonald’s and is bordered on all sides by restaurants and stores, would be closing on Feb. 4. UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university communicated with the surrounding businesses months before the closing.

Trucks with Super Demolition Inc. painted on the doors arrived Monday, where they delivered large pieces of construction equipment to the lot.

During the day, the lot was used by employees, but many businesses rented spaces in the lot for their employees and at night the lot was used by patrons of the surrounding restaurants.

Colin Thompson, the general manager of Mellow Mushroom, said the overall impact on the pizza restaurant will be “negative.”

“We do have our own lot, but you know not everybody uses it,” Thompson said. “There’s only 12 spots.”

The restaurant is still within walking distance of campus, but Thompson said Mello Mushroom still may lose business with the closing of the Jersey Street lot.

“There’s a lot of places that would be affected, I would say,” Thompson said while gesturing toward some of the businesses on South Limestone.

Justin Blevins, an apprentice at Chipotle, also said that the lot’s closure will negatively affect their business.

“We don’t agree with it,” Blevins said after a short conference with his boss. “There’s nowhere to park for us employees.”

Blanton said UK is “examining ways to increase” nearby parking capacity in the future, but have nothing to announce at this time.

Mary Morgan, the owner of Sqecial Media, said the closing of the pay-to-park stations next to the lot will hurt her business.

“That will take away a lot of my customer space,” Morgan said.

“We understand the issues this move raises,” Blanton said, “and will continue to try to communicate openly and transparently as we move forward regarding changes to the area.”

Blanton said UK traded the lot to the Chicago-based Core Spaces. In return, UK received the space where the recently-closed Kennedy’s Bookstore and Fazoli’s both sit.

Blanton said Core Spaces plans on building an apartment complex with first-floor retail space.

In a June 2017 UKNow article, UK President Eli Capilouto said the swap will allow UK to “continue the transformation of our campus,” and contribute “to the continued revitalization of an increasingly vibrant downtown and the commercial corridors that connect campus to the community.”