Martha Dryden gets excited as she explains all that has happened at this previously dilapidated part of Lexington to create Parkside, a mixed-use venture that includes affordable apartments and commercial space. The smile on her face indicated she was trying to temper her enthusiasm for all that’s still to come at 1060 Cross Keys Rd., a stop less than half a mile away from Alexandria Drive that will be featured in the Women in Architecture Tour on Sept. 22.
Dryden is the director of operations for AU Associates, a development firm headquartered in Lexington that spearheaded Parkside. The organization has completed more than $63-million worth of projects in Kentucky and West Virginia, creating in excess of 350 residential units and over 100,000 square feet of commercial space during its 21 years of existence.
But the Parkside project – which totaled a little more than $6 million and is tucked away from the usual Lexington hubs of downtown, Hamburg or Beaumont – is a bit extra special to the AU Associates.
“It’s nice to be in our own backyard,” Dryden said. “We work in a lot of rural communities two hours away, so it’s really nice to have something in our backyard and to see the positive impact it can have on our home community.”
That would help explain the added bounce in Dryden’s step as she gives an informal tour of AU Associates’ latest example of repurposing a vacant or under-utilized property. Parkside was formerly the location of the Gardenside Cabana Club and later the Cross Keys YWCA. The site was abandoned (it had actually been condemned by LFUCG code enforcement) and had become the subsequent target of vandalism as well as other questionable activity –– a general eyesore for the community.
AU Associates was approached by Citizen’s Union Bank, a Shelbyville-based institution that held the mortgage on the property and was interested in helping work toward tax credits to refurbish the land. The group then proceeded to submit the necessary paperwork to secure funding through affordable housing tax credits and other funds through the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the city’s HOME funds once site control had been obtained. The land cost approximately $700,000, with the entire project totaling $6.5 million. That figure was tempered thanks to a design by Chantelle Noble of Cincinnati’s City Studios Architecture that leveraged the site’s elevation changes, thus minimizing the need to move excess amounts of dirt. Ground was broken in December 2010 with a dedication ceremony for the finished project held just more than 12 months later on Jan. 25, 2012.
The finished product is a completely handicap-accessible four-story building managed by Winterwood, Inc. Painted in muted shades of lime, grey and taupe for a very contemporary feel, the structure also adheres to a required zone change to a P-1 that called for commercial space to be established on the ground floor.