• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Versailles Center deed deal done

THE SITE of the old Versailles Center on the U.S. 60 Bypass at Lexington Road will be the location for an 81-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites and, thanks to an agreement between McDonald's and the site's current owner, perhaps two more restaurants. This photo was taken from the fifth floor of the United Bank building in September 1999. The center's buildings were razed by the City of Versailles in 2014. (File photo by Stephen Peterson)

The owner of the old Versailles Center and the McDonald's Corporation have reached a deal that will allow other restaurants in the now-demolished shopping center. Versailles McDonald's owner Joe Graviss and Eli Mashni of the Versailles Land Group confirmed the agreement to do away with a deed restriction that prohibited another restaurant there. In August of 2015, Versailles Land Group purchased the 12-acre site for $1.08 million from a subsidiary of PBI Bank. The property is accessible from Crossfield Drive (and soon, the Kroger shopping center), and once hosted businesses ranging from Sweet Potatoes restaurant to Radio Shack. Negotiations to do away with the 33-year-old deed restriction that helped lure McDonald's put in place by the then-owner of the shopping center had gone on for about a year. "The hard part's done. We worked through all of the issues together amicably and we're both very excited to see the progress that the Versailles Land Group is making at the Versailles Center. And I am grateful to both sides for coming together and finding common ground," Graviss said. Mashni said his side has signed the deal and he expected the McDonald's Corporation to follow suit. Graviss said in return for the easing of the deed restriction, the Versailles Land Group gave up a few feet on two sides of the property to allow McDonald's to put in a double drive-through and possibly expand. He said he didn't know the value of the land. Graviss and Mashni both said two new roads that will connect the Versailles Center and the Kroger shopping center should ease traffic on Lexington Road and its intersection with the U.S. 60 Bypass. "Some in the community might feel like that this took an excessive amount of time to complete, but when you think about a multinational corporation coming to a small town and working with a developer to get something done legally and properly, it actually went pretty quick," Graviss said. Jimmy John's and Napa Prime? Mashni said a Jimmy John's sub shop has been approved for the site and that he'd spoken to the owner of Napa Prime about moving there. Monday, Napa Prime owner Darrell Lewis confirmed that he was approached by Mashni last summer, but said they didn't yet have a deal. "It's something we would entertain . but nothing's been presented to us," Lewis said. "We haven't heard anything since then." Lewis said if Napa Prime does move to the Versailles Center, he'll likely keep his present location at 508 Lexington Road open for catering and other purposes. "I think Woodford County needs a banquet facility, and (the move to the Versailles Center) was an option for us to turn this to that," Lewis said. Hotel Having a "sit-down" restaurant in the Versailles Center was seen as crucial for the planned Holiday Inn Express and Suites, a four-story hotel with 81 rooms, indoor pool and exercise room - but no restaurant. "We're excited about getting to Versailles and getting a hotel in. I think the restaurants on the property will be a great asset to the hotel," said Don Howard of H&W Management, the Lexington firm handling the hotel negotiations. Howard said construction on the hotel should begin in March or April and will take ten months to complete, which would mean the hotel could open around February of 2018. Last March, Howard and partner Jeff Yeary told the Versailles City Council that, pending approval from the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission and private parties, construction could begin this fall and the hotel open in the fall of 2017. Tuesday, Howard said the push-back of the target dates involved more than just the long negotiations over the restaurant deed restrictions. Infrastructure improvements, like roads connecting the Versailles Center to the Kroger shopping center, were needed before work on the hotel could begin, he said. Mashni told The Sun that the Versailles Center will likely be renamed, possibly by a "national anchor tenant." By next summer, there should be at least three buildings on the site, one of which may be a cell phone provider, he said. "I think by the summer of '17, it'll look completely different," Mashni said.

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