The Explorium of Lexington and the new owners of Victorian Square said Friday they have reached a financial agreement that will let the children's museum stay in its current location.
The museum's rent will increase from the current $6.11 per square foot to $9.89 per square foot. The rent will then increase 25 cents per square foot each year until the museum pays $10.89, Explorium board chairman Tim Davis said.
In 2018, if the Explorium wants to stay where it is, the rent would go up 1.5 percent.
The Explorium board met Friday to agree to the financial portion of the contract.
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Davis emphasized that the Explorium and the Victorian Square owners have not yet signed a lease; the parties are still talking about other terms, such as who pays if an air-conditioning unit breaks.
"We have to see if those terms are agreeable to us, but obviously, I feel we have cleared a significant portion of the hurdle with the financial agreement," Davis said, adding he expected the two sides to reach agreement on the other terms.
Davis said he was pleased with the agreement and that the museum would be allowed to remain where it has been for more than two decades. "We reached a deal that is favorable to us and to them. We are pleased we were able to work together on this," he said.
Victorian Square — at Main Street and Broadway in the heart of downtown — is under new ownership. It was bought last August by The Webb Companies in partnership with Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. of Cincinnati.
Mark Fallon, Anderson's vice president of real estate leasing, said he had been told at first that the Explorium wanted to move from Victorian Square. "As soon as we found out they wanted to stay, we were excited about it. We reached out and came to a quick agreement with them," he said.
The Explorium has slightly more than 25,000 square feet of space. For 20,000 square feet of that, the museum will have a five-year lease. The rest will be leased on a month-to-month basis.
Fallon, in charge of lining up new tenants for the block of restored 19th-century buildings, said the museum "is a part of our planned redevelopment mix for the project."
When the sale of Victorian Square was announced, the new owners said they planned to spend as much as $10 million to "reinvent" the space, which contains about 226,000 square feet overall.
Fallon said Friday he plans for Victorian Square to have a mix of fashion, restaurants and entertainment destinations, both local and national, to give people a reason to come to Lexington. "We're putting together something that will be a real catalyst for people to come to Lexington and stay for a couple of extra days," he said.
The Explorium adds another reason for people to visit, especially families with children, said Fallon, the father of 4-year-old twin boys. Fallon was speaking from Florida where his family had just spent the past 48 hours. "It's a lot easier to keep them entertained, locally, with places like the Explorium," he said.
Davis said the Explorium board was expressing faith in the owners "to put a development there that will be good for us, and that we can be good for the development. We want nothing but a successful Victorian Square."
Fallon expects to start announcing tenants next month and will announce one or two at a time through the summer. "With what we announce, you will see it becomes that edited mix of local along with national players that makes this a 'wow' destination," he said.
Developer Dudley Webb said he was "elated" that the Explorium was staying. "It's an important part of downtown," Webb said. He called the museum one of the square's anchor tenants.