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An idea for the Kmart property

The former Kmart building at 2500 Park Road has been empty for several years.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

What will become of the former Kmart store building and parking lot on Park Road?

At least one member of the Fayette County Council has a vision for it that she is pursuing. And there are other ideas, as well.

Kmart closed its store at 2500 N. Park Road several years ago. The 93,000 square foot building on 8 acres has remained empty. For awhile, people were parking cars and trucks in the lot with “for sale” signs in the windshields. At the property owner’s request, those vehicles have been removed.

Now, according to Dan Parker, the Fayette County Economic Development Group executive, the owner is willing to sign it over to a nonprofit organization or will demolish the building within the next several months if a new owner is not found. The owner would probably want to keep a strip along Park Road for possible commercial development.

Shirley Wise, a county council member, came to the Fayette County Commissioners Tuesday morning to share her idea for saving it and putting the property to new use. She would like to see the Fayette County Free Fair use the building and parking lot. The 14 Acres owned by the Free Fair is next door, to the north and east of the Kmart property.

In discussions with the Fair Board, she has found her idea has at least one major obstacle: the Fair Board can’t afford the monthly $1,500 bill for storm water runoff. That’s a fee paid by owners of properties with a lot of pavement or large roofs. It helps pay the city’s cost for taking care of storm water. 

So, she believes, a local non-profit organization should take ownership of the property and be responsible for that bill. The Fair Board could use the building during the fair. The rest of the year, it would be a community center. The fair also needs additional parking that could go to the Kmart parking lot.

The building has mold growing in it and part of the roof is deteriorating, she said. Still, the community could come together and find funding to renovate it.

Commissioner Gary Naylor said that while he would be interested in exploring Wise’s idea, there is a problem with having the property owned by a non-profit. That would take it off of the property tax rolls, he said. According to Jane Downard, county auditor, that’s $37,029 a year.

Wise responded, “If we accept this property, some could be available for development.” A strip of land along Park Road could be used for commercial development, keeping it on the tax rolls.

Parker, from EDG, said he believes Wise’s proposal should be fully examined. He said other developers have talked of different kinds of development, especially if the building is demolished. Some have said it might be possible to have a strip of commercial development along Park Road with residential units built behind that.

Wise said she is trying to build momentum for the project. She is trying to establish a group that will work toward implementing it.