A time line of the CentrePointe development

Herald-Leader Staff ReportMarch 9, 2013 

In summer, the grass on CentrePointe block is an easy-to-read indicator of whether Lexington is experiencing rainfall or drought.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF — Herald-Leader

Five years ago, a $250 million project called CentrePointe was announced for downtown Lexington, a skyscraper that the developers said would reshape one of the best-recognized blocks in town. Immediately, the project was controversial. By the end of the summer, the block was cleared of 14 buildings. Financing failed; CentrePointe never got off the ground. And its future has been questioned ever since.

2008

March 4: The Webb Cos. announce a $250 million construction project to build a 40-story tower in downtown Lexington. The Webbs say the project would include a major four-star, 243-room hotel, 77 residential condominium units and 26,000 square feet of retail space.

March 24: Business owner Joe Rosenberg files for demolition permits for 109, 111, 117 and 119-121 South Limestone to raze four of the buildings on the site of the proposed project.

March 28: Vice Mayor Jim Gray proposes an international design competition for the CentrePointe project that would push the completion date further into the future.

March 31: Developer Dudley Webb, who identified Marriott as the franchise that would operate the hotel, balks at the idea of a design competition.

June 25: The Courthouse Area Design Review Board unanimously approves demolition permits for buildings in the proposed CentrePointe development block.

July 23: Crews with Diversified Demolition begin tearing down buildings in the historic block.

Aug. 5: Developers of the CentrePointe project decline a request by a city task force to publicly identify the project's financial backers.

Aug. 19: Watch a time-lapse video of the demolition of the buildings in the CentrePointe block.

Oct. 30: Dudley Webb says his financing partners have assured him that "the money is on reserve and they are ready to go."

Nov. 1: Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects produced the first revision of the proposed CentrePointe development. It was one of many to come.

2009

April 9: A Los Angeles attorney tells Lexington officials in a letter that the unidentified financial backer of CentrePointe died in fall 2008. The project won't be complete for the 2010 games as hoped.

May 5: A defiant Dudley Webb chastises the Urban County Council for carping about his CentrePointe project, saying the fate of the delayed development's funding would be known in 60 to 90 days.

May 14: The Fayette County property valuation administrator reassesses the development block. The land is now assessed at $20 million and property taxes are raised to $200,000, five times greater than the previous year's.

June 5: Webb tells the Lexington Forum he has a Plan B and a Plan C for financing the CentrePointe project, and if those don't work out, he will look for fill dirt to level the site and plant grass.

Oct. 2: After subsequent plans fall through, Dudley Webb arranges for fill dirt to cover the CentrePointe block and for grass to be planted. Four-plank fencing is built around the perimeter, giving it a horse-farm look.

2010

June 11: The grassy lawn in the middle of downtown Lexington turns out to be a handy place for events such as the Fourth of July and the Spotlight Festival during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

June 25: The latest design for the CentrePointe development is presented.

July 1: The Courthouse Area Design Review Board unanimously approves a new design for the CentrePointe project. It includes an upscale hotel, 63 condominiums, ground-floor retail space and 50,000 square feet of office space.

2011

Jan. 26: In his first major speech since taking office, Mayor Jim Gray pledges to tackle several controversial issues in downtown Lexington, including the stalled CentrePointe development.

March 1: Webb hires Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, to design two or three concepts for site.

July 15: Architect Jeanne Gang unveils a plan for a 30-story tower to include a hotel, apartments and condominiums; an eight-story office building; a pedestrian passway through the block; and several small buildings. The taller building is a bundle of tubes of varying heights, arranged to allow sunshine and air to flow among them. Roof gardens would top several of the tubes.

Sept. 21: Architect Jeanne Gang is named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, receiving a $500,000 "genius" grant.

Oct. 23: To promote the Alltech National Horse Show, set for November, the CentrePointe block became the site of a mini-horse show.

Oct. 28: Architect Jeanne Gang is no longer involved in the project, according to developer Dudley Webb.

Dec. 13: Dudley Webb buys a historical building at 101 West Main Street and says he plans to restore the structure that houses Taste of Thai and Sam's Hot Dog Stand.

2012

Feb. 7: Mayor Jim Gray appoints Derek Paulsen to be the city's first commissioner focused solely on planning. Paulsen says he will work with "all parties involved with CentrePointe to turn that block into the best use possible. How can we get it going in the best way possible?"

Feb. 15: Architects from EOP present a preliminary design to the Courthouse Area Design Review Board. The design retains several pieces of the master plan created in 2011 by architect Jeanne Gang and her firm.

March 14: A controversial pedway has been withdrawn from the design of the CentrePointe project.

July 4: As part of the second Fourth of July Festival organized by the Downtown Lexington Corp., a mobile zip line is set up on the CentrePointe lot.

Sept. 10: Volunteers help place nearly 3,000 flags in the shape of the numbers "9-11," one flag for each victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dec. 2: The latest design for the CentrePointe project moves the hotel from one side of the block to the other.

2013

March 7: A bill to help CentrePointe developers recoup costs for the long-delayed project cleared the General Assembly on March 7, 2013. The bill would lower the amount of money CentrePointe developers would need to spend before they could start recouping money spent on infrastructure improvements, such as a parking garage. The threshold would be lowered from $200 million to $150 million. The bill awaits Gov. Steve Beshear's signature or veto.

March 10: The CentrePointe block has been empty for years, and several city officials are contemplating its future. Financing remains in doubt, and it's not any clearer when the project might start. The Webbs remain optimistic that they will secure financing and complete the project.

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