New CentrePointe designs include five more floors for apartment building

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comMay 6, 2014 

Developers of the long-anticipated CentrePointe development have submitted new designs for the downtown project that include five additional floors on an apartment building.

New designs for the development, which includes an office tower, a hotel and other retail space, also show changes to the facade of the hotel.

The Courthouse Area Design Review Board, which ensures that new development meet design guidelines for downtown, is expected to review the changes at its next meeting on May 14. The project has been before the review board at least three times in the past 12 months.

Including financing costs, the price tag for the entire CentrePointe project, which includes Vine, Main, Limestone and Upper streets, is estimated to be $393.9 million. The project has been controversial since 2008, when an entire block of historic buildings was razed but construction on the new development did not begin until late December 2013.

The downtown project has been repeatedly delayed because of problems with financing.

Dudley Webb, one of the project's developers, told the Herald-Leader that the latest changes were driven by Marriott officials, who wanted to add extended-stay suites to the apartment complex.

"We are going to add 110 Marriott extended-stay suites which will now be the first five floors of the apartment complex," Webb said.

The apartment complex was originally to be seven floors and will now be 12, according to the new designs. The bottom floor is to be retail shops. The top six floors are to be apartments.

The Marriott chain had initially said that its luxury brand, J.W. Marriott, would occupy the hotel structure that faces Vine Street. Webb said that Marriott has since decided to make it a Marriott hotel, which is still a full-service hotel. The hotel is to have 205 rooms, which was the initial plan.

Architectural firm Rabun Rasche Rector Reece of Atlanta made changes to the exterior of the hotel. Webb said that firm is one of the premier hotel architects in the country.

CMMI of Atlanta made changes to the other buildings in the proposed development. Those tweaks to the exterior of the hotel include changes to the facade that include a terrace for the condominiums that are also part of the hotel complex. The first 11 floors are for the hotel. Seven more floors are for condominiums and penthouse suites.

Each of the condominiums will have a terrace as well, Webb said. The previous design for the hotel was a glass box facade. Webb said he thought the changes to the hotel exterior are more appealing.

More windows were added to the hotel as part of the design changes, according to documents and designs submitted to the review board.

Other minor changes include changing the orientation of the vehicle entrance in the underground parking garage for the hotel.

The 700-space, five-story underground parking garage should be completed by late summer, Webb said. Crews began blasting on the CentrePointe site in early March.

Once the parking garage is complete, construction will begin on the 10-story office complex, Webb said. The office building is approved for as many as 12 stories. Webb said that if some potential tenants confirm in the next few weeks, the office building could expand from 10 stories to 12.

Tenants of the office complex will include engineering firm Stantec. That firm announced in December that it will consolidate its Lexington operations to one downtown office and add 30 jobs.

Part of the project will be financed using tax increment financing, which uses taxes generated by the project to reimburse developers the cost of the 700-space garage. The costs eligible for recovery include $31.9 million to be spent on a parking garage and $16.9 million from the financing of it.

But the Urban County Council approved stiff guidelines in July for the Webb Companies in order for the development to move forward as a TIF project. Key provisions in that agreement include that Webb had to show city officials that he has financing for the project, submit to the city a geotechnical report on the feasibility for the underground garage, and certify that there is enough sewer capacity for the development.

All of those requirements have been met.

Additionally, the Urban County Council approved an agreement last fall that would require CentrePointe developers to set aside $4.4 million in case parts of the project were not completed and the site had to be restored.

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

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