The Williamsburg City Council formally agreed Monday evening to lease a portion of a parking lot in downtown Williamsburg to the University of the Cumberlands for use by residents in apartments that the school is building on the second flood of the old Faulkner and Taylor Furniture Store building.
The school purchased the building in late 2017, and is building apartments for graduate students upstairs and is converting the downstairs portion of the building into retail space, including a restaurant, a butcher’s shop, a coffee shop, and a general store.
Mayor Roddy Harrison called the project a union between the city and the university, and said the city agreed to provide the parking for the apartments in exchange for the school purchasing and developing the property.
The upstairs portion of the property won’t be taxable property because the school is utilizing it for housing, but the bottom portion of the building, which will be utilized as retail shopping space, will be taxable.
Before the city council could vote to lease part of the parking lot, which is located near the intersection of Sycamore and Fourth streets, to the university, it first had to vote Monday to accept the deed for the property from the Williamsburg Housing Authority.
The Williamsburg Housing Authority originally obtained the land many years ago with plans to build low-income housing there, but those plans got canceled because the land was determined to be in the flood plain at the time.
Until this project arose, Harrison noted that no one realized that the housing authority actually owned the parking lot.
The council then authorized the University of the Cumberlands to lease a portion of the lot.
“The rest will remain city parking as normal,” Harrison added.
The lease is for 25 years with an automatic 25-year renewal.
If UC ever sells the property or it ceases to be housing used by the university, then the property would revert back to the city, noted Williamsburg City Attorney Kim Frost.
The university will maintain insurance on the parking lot, and any improvements made to the lot will be the responsibility of the school and would belong to the city if the lot ever reverted back to the city.
There is no dollar amount in the lease.
Harrison added that it looks like it will be the end of October before the project is done.
In addition, during its monthly meeting Monday, the council discussed a letter that the city recently received from Boone County Commissioner Jesse Brewer, which complemented Williamsburg Police Officer Greg Rhoades and Leach’s Towing Owner Tommy Leach for their recent assistance.
Brewer was traveling from Tennessee to Boone County when he had major car trouble on a Sunday evening.
He was able to pull off at Exit 11 and flagged down Rhoades, who happened to be driving by while on patrol. Rhoades then contacted Leach, who was nearby at Walmart.
“Tommy was able to quickly assess my vehicle, order the parts, towed it to his shop and not only had me safely fixed and back on the road within a couple of hours, but was very fair and honest with me in his pricing. I couldn’t have been happier nor luckier that God had put this man in my path that night or Lord knows what would have happened had I continued to drive on,” Brewer wrote.
“Men like Tommy are what makes this Commonwealth great and he is a real asset not only to your community but to the Commonwealth as a whole.”
In other business, the council discussed the status of The Bourbon Barn, which is a new liquor store with plans to open in Williamsburg.
Harrison said that there have been a number of issues that have hampered the opening of the business ranging from an early certificate of occupancy issue to more recent issues with some distributors.
“Bottom line the target date is Labor Day,” Harrison added.