Design for Lexington's CentrePointe project gets board's approval

bfortune@herald-leader.comMarch 28, 2012 

The Courthouse Area Design Review Board on Wednesday approved the latest — and presumably final — design for developer Dudley Webb's hotel, condo, retail and office project on the CentrePointe block in downtown Lexington.

With the exception of some relatively minor changes — including removal of a controversial pedway — it is the design EOP Architects presented to the board on Feb. 15.

The CentrePointe project includes a 28-story hotel-condo tower and six other buildings on the block, including four smaller structures on Main Street designed by several local architects.

Changes unveiled Wednesday included a new top for the hotel tower; more windows and transparency to buildings on South Upper Street; and a wider, taller pedestrian walkway lined with retail stores connecting Main Street to Vine Street.

Part of the CentrePointe block lies within the Courthouse Area Design Zone, where new construction and exterior changes to buildings require review board approval

The initial plan for the CentrePointe project, unveiled in March 2008, proposed a massive tower that required leveling a block of downtown buildings dating to 1826. Despite preservationists' protests, the Courthouse Area Design Review Board allowed the demolition. The project then stalled because of problems obtaining financing for the project.

Darby Turner, attorney for Webb, said this was the fourth time the board has approved a CentrePointe design.

Keith Atkins, board member and chief development officer for the city, said Lexington has a study under way on the feasibility of converting some downtown streets from one-way to two-way. He asked EOP architect Rick Ekhoff whether the project design worked with two-way streets. Ekhoff said it would.

"That's one more hurdle behind us," Webb said after Wednesday's approval. "We're excited to get board approval."

The next step will be to have architects do detailed drawings of each building, then give those to construction firms for cost estimates. After getting construction costs, Webb will look for financing.

"This is the way it should end, with everybody saying 'yes' and going home and getting to work." said Michael Speaks, a review board member and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design.

EOP responded "in a serious and professional way" to the board's comments in February and to recommendations from a public forum a few weeks later, Speaks said.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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