The Lexington Herald-Leader has signed a contract to sell its downtown building on Midland Avenue to the CRM Development Co., which is considering an expansion of the four-story building to create upscale professional office space.
According to a statement from Herald-Leader Publisher Rufus M. Friday, the sale is contingent on several factors, including “the buyer’s due diligence, zoning approval, and other normal regulatory closing terms.”
Craig Turner, CEO of CRM Development, said he plans to meet next week with neighbors, including those in the nearby Bell Court neighborhood, and city planners.
The property is zoned industrial and will need to be rezoned for business development. A zone change takes several months to complete.
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“We want to put something together that is unique, that the surrounding neighborhoods will embrace,” Turner said.
He said he doesn’t plan to subdivide the property. Proposed renderings of the redeveloped property include an addition on what is now the front parking lot. More windows would be added to the Midland Avenue side of the building, and a parking garage would be added at the rear of the building if it’s expanded.
Turner said he is talking to several potential tenants and partners.
It’s possible that an addition might not be needed, depending on the needs of the tenants, he said. If that happens, the exterior and interior of the building would be renovated, but the existing parking lots would remain, Turner said.
“This is a major intersection and gateway into downtown,” Turner said. “I think this design makes a statement, but it still honors the area and the current building.”
The newspaper building has been on the market since June 2016, when the newspaper announced that it would be printed in Louisville.
The Herald-Leader’s news and advertising staffs, and administrative employees, work in the downtown Lexington building and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
A purchase price was not released. The 174,447-square-foot building was listed for $8.5 million and includes nearly three acres, making it one of the larger parcels for sale close to downtown.
“Since its founding 147 years ago, the Lexington Herald-Leader has been a forceful advocate for initiatives that strengthen Lexington as a community and city,” Friday said in a statement. “In keeping with this tradition, we support CRM Development Co.’s efforts to contribute to the enhancement of the Midland Avenue corridor. Their vision aligns with the comprehensive revitalization of downtown Lexington and a vibrant downtown core, and we hope it is successful in bringing its plans to fruition.”
The Herald-Leader moved into its building at Main Street and Midland Avenue in 1980.
CRM Development Co. oversees the development and operation of retail, restaurant, hotel and office buildings, according to its website.