Keeneland could break ground this year

Another in what has been described as a long list of items to make the proposed quarter horse track in Corbin a reality was checked off Tuesday afternoon. The Corbin Planning and Zoning Commission approved a new development plat during a special called meeting.

Rich Newton, a land surveyor with Vision Engineering, the company that performed the survey, explained that when the development plan was created in 2015, the approximately 149 acres had extended across nine separate tracts of land. The new plat consolidated it into three tracts.

Newton said this would make it a more manageable piece of property, adding that it simplified the process of conveying the property for future development.

“We needed a good survey on it anyway,” Newton said. “We needed to figure out where the outside was.”

“This is one step in light of many and more to go to further development,” said Bruce Simpson, who attended the meeting on behalf of Keeneland.

Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter said the project continues to move forward, but there is no schedule for construction.

“I think we could potentially see it this year,” Carpenter said when asked when site work may begin.

Plans include a 1,723-foot straight racing track, along with barn facilities, an entertainment center and grandstand. In addition, the property has six out-parcels for commercial development and property allocated for a hotel/motel facility.

The project is expected to create approximately 2,000 jobs and generate approximately $10 million in tax revenue.

The project was first announced in April 2015 with construction scheduled to begin in 2016.

Construction was delayed after an endangered species of bat was found to have taken up residence in a wooded area on the property, and then while Keeneland completed renovations to The Red Mile harness racing track in Lexington.

The necessary racing license became another issue.

Initial plans called for Keeneland to purchase the license from the defunct Thunder Ridge harness racing facility in Floyd County.

As part of the purchase, Keeneland agreed to assume responsibility for the debt.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has issued eight racing licenses to facilities across the state.

However, upon learning of the existence of an unissued ninth license, Keeneland officials applied to the commission for that license for the proposed Corbin facility.

With Floyd County potentially liable for the bond debt, a lawsuit was filed to force Keeneland to purchase the Floyd County license.

Floyd County officials noted that if the county were held liable for the debt, it would be bankrupt.

In July, Appalachian Racing Inc., the owner of the Floyd County track, paid off the debt in full.