Redefining the Bubble: Public Records Reveal Additional Properties

by Jake Hawkins
Staff

Transylvania University has long been regarded as a small space of land comprised of two blocks. However, a review of public records from the office of the Fayette County property valuation administrator (PVA) shows that Transy owns 110 properties scattered across the Lexington area, most of which are located in or around downtown.

“We’re not as boxed in as people think,” said President Owen Williams in the Oct. 7, 2010, issue of The Rambler.

This review echoes the statement made by Williams challenging the popular notion of Transy’s campus.

Over the past semester, Williams has expressed a desire for Transy’s campus to expand physically. While Williams was not available for comment, The Rambler spoke late last semester with Vice President for Finance and Business Marc Mathews to discover how, if at all, these properties would fit into an expansion plan.

The first thing Mathews established was that the 110 properties Transy currently owns were acquired as they became available over a period of years. But the university’s philosophy on the way it purchases property may now be changing, he said.

“We’re just trying not to be confined by two blocks. … We’ve always done our campus planning by looking at what we own,” said Mathews. “Williams is saying, ‘Let’s think of it by what we might own.’ ”

According to Mathews, this philosophical change is most affected by the realization that, when buying properties in a piecemeal fashion, it becomes more difficult to get all the pieces needed.

“What we’re realizing is two things. One is it’s very difficult to piece the monopoly board together,” said Mathews. “Secondly, it drives the price up.”

Mathews also mentioned the idea of moving all athletic facilities to a location separate from the contiguous Transy campus. This idea was first introduced by Williams in his State of the University Address last semester.

“I think we have about 50 acres of total land,” said Mathews. “If we could get 10 acres somewhere, increase our campus by 20 percent, how would you use it, what would you put there? The athletic facilities are a strong possibility right now.”

“Everything we’ve ever done is open to question at this point in time,” Mathews said. “It doesn’t mean it’s open to question like anything was ever done badly; it just means let’s think about it. Just because we’ve always done it that way, is it the right way to do it?”

New ideas were mentioned by Mathews, though they are just in the brainstorming stage. There are not necessarily plans to immediately enact them.

“We’ve always said, ‘No, we will not have parking structures,’ now we’re saying that maybe we would have a parking structure,” said Mathews. “We could have a rooftop garden.”

Though records show that Transy owns 110 properties, it is theoretically possible that properties are owned under different names and would not appear in a database search for Transy’s properties.

Mathews, however, says that the PVA list is conclusive.

“Right now we are only acquiring properties in Transylvania’s name. … There’s nothing else you could run a name of and it would be Transy’s property,” said Mathews.
The properties appear in Lexington-Fayette County ZIP codes 40508, 40507, 40505 and 40502, and 105 of them are classified as “E” properties, which, according to Fayette County PVA David O’Neill, means the properties are filed as tax-exempt.

According to the records, Transy owns five properties that are not currently listed as tax-exempt in the public records. However, when he spoke with The Rambler Wednesday night, O’Neill said that these properties are now, in fact, tax-exempt.

“Classifications of properties, and taxable status for any given tax year, is as of Jan. 1 of that year,” said O’Neill. “So, on Jan. 1, 2010, these properties were taxable because they were not yet owned by Transy.”

“Transy purchased these properties during the 2010 calendar year,” O’Neill said.

Records won’t reflect this change until around April, he added.

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One Response to Redefining the Bubble: Public Records Reveal Additional Properties

  1. Pingback: RAMBLER WEB EXCLUSIVE: TU administration plans to build new athletic facilities on recently acquired land « The Rambler

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