Lexington architects file lien against CentrePointe property, Webb says architects paid in full

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comOctober 4, 2013 

The former architects of the long-delayed CentrePointe project in downtown Lexington have not been paid more than $430,000 for their services, according to documents filed Thursday. But developers of the project said Friday that the architects have been paid in full.

EOP Architects of Lexington filed a lien against the CentrePointe property on Thursday. According to the documents filed with the Fayette County Clerk, EOP says CentrePointe's developer, the Webb Companies, owes the firm $432,789.56.

Dudley Webb, the company's chairman, told the Herald-Leader Friday that he has already paid EOP for their services and plans to fight the lien. Thursday's filing will not slow the project's progress, Webb said.

Webb said EOP has been paid $207,808.19, including $25,000 that EOP requested after it pulled out of the project in August.

Rick Ekhoff, an architect who worked on CentrePointe, said it was unfortunate that EOP had to resort to a lien.

"When EOP chose to withdraw from the CentrePointe project at the end of August, the firm was owed past-due fees for services," Ekhoff said. "We are unfortunately being forced to resort to these actions in order to collect."

Ekhoff said he couldn't comment further on the lien.

After the Courthouse Area Design Review Board gave conditional approval to the CentrePointe design at an Aug. 21 meeting, EOP pulled out of the project — which has been stalled since 2008. EOP officials declined then to say why they severed ties with the Webb Companies. According to the lien filed Thursday, EOP last provided services on the project on Aug. 30.

The multi-use development would consist of apartments, an office building, and hotel, restaurant and retail space that includes an entire city block.

The previous buildings on the block that borders Main, Limestone, Vine and Upper streets were razed. The block is now a fenced-in grass lot.

During the August meeting, the board voted to approve the latest incarnation of the project but said it had concerns about the brick and white trim on the apartment building. Earlier this week, the Webb Companies submitted new designs that included slight tweaks to the exteriors of the apartment, office building and hotel. Those designs were by the original architects of the project: CMMI of Atlanta.

Webb said Friday that EOP were the local architects working on the project for CMMI. He said the changes to the design were done by CMMI; not EOP. In a statement, Webb said that officials with EOP became frustrated during the August meeting of the Courthouse Area Design Review Board because the board was critical of their design. Webb provided a copy of a letter that Ekhoff sent to the Webb Companies after he opted out of the project that asked for "$25,000 that you have promised."

On Aug. 31, EOP was paid that amount by a check marked "payment in full," Webb said in a written statement. "That is not only now being contested but also bonded over by us since it is totally without merit and it will have no effect on the ground-breaking as is now scheduled for later this month."

Webb said that the architectural work for this project was only 10 percent complete. "Will all due respect, I know of no instance where someone can earn 90 percent of their pay for doing 10 percent of their job and then quitting."

A hearing to consider the revamped plans is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city, said the lien is not likely to have any impact on the Courthouse Area Review Design Board meeting next week.

"The design approval in front of the Courthouse Area Design Review Board can go ahead, and the review of the design can be approved or disapproved based on compliance with the guidelines," Straub said. "If the lien somehow affected the design to the point it had to be changed, they would have to come back for subsequent approval of a change."

According to city officials, developers have not applied yet for a construction permit for CentrePointe. A lien on a property would not preclude a construction permit from begin issued, Straub said.

Beth Musgrave (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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