The University of Kentucky Celebrates New Mixed-Use Facility

LEXINGTON, KY – A first ever mixed-use parking, education and retail facility designed to fuel innovation and foster creativity has, since 2019, been transforming the corner of South Limestone and Winslow Street for the University of Kentucky (UK). The new structure will be home to 900 new parking spaces, University of Kentucky esports, a flexible innovation zone and approximately 10,000 square feet of private retail space.

University officials announced that, per the results of a campus-wide vote, the facility will be named “The Cornerstone,” reflecting the building’s role as a gateway to an emerging innovation district that will further link the university and city. The project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2020.

Further, officials also announced that the unique, multi-vendor dining area on the ground level will be named The Cornerstone Exchange, a place for the campus and community to exchange ideas, exercise innovation and experience local food and drinks. The Cornerstone Exchange dining area is committed to featuring homegrown, Kentucky-based companies, and the university is thrilled to announce that the first three establishments are local favorites: West Sixth Brewing, A Cup of Common Wealth and Rolling Oven.

University of Kentucky Cornerstone

Renderings of The Cornerstone Exchange courtesy of Signet Real Estate

“We are very excited to announce both the name The Cornerstone, which underscores the importance of this facility as a doorway to our campus, and our relationship with these local businesses,” says UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday. “Each of these organizations has a strong connection to, and engagement with, the local community. They reflect the kind of supportive, collaborative environment we plan to create in this space.”

Monday said the vision for The Cornerstone is to leverage the open-format space and use of technology to maximize student success, enhance a sense of community and bring together the university and city. Moreover, the space will foster outcome- and solution-driven thinking and design, connect people with different passions and interests and provide new pathways for career development in entrepreneurial fields.

The space’s esports theater will include 100 retractable theater-style seats and an esports gamers lounge will offer more than 50 PC-based gaming units and multiple console-play areas; however, the flexible use of the facility will allow the community to engage in a variety of activities.

Executive Director for Strategic Analysis and Policy Melody Flowers says, “The Cornerstone Exchange communal dining area provides additional opportunity to build community and collaboration.”

University of Kentucky Cornerstone

“We know that some of the most meaningful relationships are built while people break bread,” Flowers says. “This facility will feature multiple components, including dining space and innovation space. We look forward to continuing our quick progress in transforming this integral, forward thinking part of campus in partnership with Signet Real Estate Group.”

After completion, Signet will maintain and operate the retail/dining space; UK will operate and maintain the innovation zone, esports center and parking structure.

“From the beginning of this partnership, Signet and UK have endeavored to create a unique retail environment for students, staff and the Lexington community,” says Signet Real Estate Group Vice President of Development Spencer Hyatt. “The Cornerstone Exchange will bring together a diverse offering of the best-in-class local operators in a collaborative atmosphere. We are truly excited to have Rolling Oven, A Cup of Common Wealth and West Sixth Brewing as our first tenants and anchors for this project.”

"We're proud to be part of The Cornerstone project at the University of Kentucky," says Ben Self, co-founder of West Sixth Brewing. "It's very exciting to be an anchor of another locally focused food collaborative space. Growing up in Lexington, I'm keenly aware of the role that our flagship university plays in our city, and I'm particularly excited to deepen our partnership with UK. With the deep roots we've formed focusing on distributing our beer exclusively in Kentucky — especially in Lexington where we started — it made perfect sense for us to partner with the university to open our third taproom in Lexington, and fifth throughout Kentucky."

University of Kentucky Cornerstone

In addition, by adding more than 900 new parking spaces, the combined number of spaces increases to roughly 2,300 between the existing garage and the new structure. This is a significant step in the right direction to achieving the university’s Transportation Master Plan and adding much needed parking capacity to campus.

The Cornerstone Exchange is leased exclusively by retail specialists Colleen Barr and Greg Leveridge with Block + Lot Real Estate. Known as a Lexington boutique, full-service real estate company, Block + Lot has built its reputation on impactful commercial real estate brokerage throughout Central Kentucky, making this exciting project a natural fit.

About the University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized UK as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." The university is ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of its breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years.

About the Author

Sarah Geegan is an executive communication specialist for the University of Kentucky.