Design panel approves CentrePointe changes, including adding five floors on one building

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comMay 14, 2014 

A city panel gave the green light Wednesday to another round of changes to the long-anticipated CentrePointe development; the changes include five additional floors in a proposed apartment building for a second hotel.

The Courthouse Area Design Review Board also approved other changes to the exterior of the office building and hotel.

The board voted 3-1 to approve the changes. Architect and board member Graham Pohl was the sole member to vote against the new designs. Pohl said the overall designs for the downtown project have greatly improved, but he said he was concerned about the scale of the now 12-story apartment building on Main Street. Pohl had recommended bumping out the lower five stories of the building to reduce the appearance of the size of the building.

The price tag for the entire CentrePointe project, which is bounded by South Limestone and Vine, Main and Upper streets, is estimated at $393.9 million, including financing costs. The project has been controversial since 2008, when an entire block of historic buildings was razed. Construction on the development began in late December.

The project has been before the courthouse area design review board four times since May 2012.

The apartment building, which will face Main Street, was originally slated to be seven stories; it is now 12.

The apartment building will have an extended-stay Marriott hotel on the first five stories, developers said Wednesday. Marriott has also signed on to the 18-floor hotel building. That building will have 11 floors of hotel space and seven floors of condominiums. The exterior of the hotel now includes a terrace for the condominiums and will likely include two penthouse suites on the top, said Joseph Rabun of Rabun, Rasche Rector Reece of Atlanta. The firm is one of the premier hotel architects in the country.

Tweaks were also made to the exterior of the office tower, which is mainly glass. The 10-story office tower will be the future home of Stantec, an engineering firm. Kevin Atkins, a Courthouse Area Design Review Board member, asked during Wednesday's meeting whether Stantec had approved the designs.

Dudley Webb, the CentrePointe developer, said the firm has approved the changes. The office building will also likely be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified, which Stantec has requested, Webb said.

A Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse has already been announced for a street-level restaurant as part of the project. Webb said developers are also in discussions with Starbucks as a possible tenant for an outdoor cafe.

Marriott will review the design changes and will determine the price point of the types of rooms that will go in the hotel space, Webb said after Wednesday's meeting. The hotel was originally slated to be a J.W. Marriott, Marriott's luxury brand. Those plans have changed because of the recession, Webb said.

Blasting for the underground garage began this year and will likely conclude in the next week, Webb said. Construction will then begin on the 700-space underground garage. The office tower will likely begin construction in August, he said.

"We're obviously pleased," Webb said of the board's approval. "I think the designs have gotten better."

The project has to go before the board because it is in a downtown district that requires approval of the designs before construction begins.

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

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