The Courthouse Area Review Design Board gave unanimous approval Wednesday to slight design tweaks to Lexington's planned 21c Museum Hotel.
The changes to the outside of the complex — including the First National Building and several adjoining buildings — mainly keep more of the original facades intact.
"We're keeping more of the building as it is right now," said Anthony Pitassi, project manager with Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff and Goettel, the architects for the 21c Museum Hotel.
Some of the minor changes include removing a mechanical penthouse on one of the buildings, restoring some windows instead of replacing them, and keeping the facade of the Upper Street building adjoining the First National Bank building.
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Graham Pohl, an architect on the board, told Pitassi he approved of the minor changes.
"I think it's moving in the right direction," Pohl said.
Molly Swyers, vice president of design and communications for 21c, said the group still hoped to start construction by the end of the year and be open in 2015.
The project includes an approximately 90-room hotel and a restaurant.
The original design was approved by the board last August. But as the group became more involved with the project, it realized it needed to make some minor changes, Swyers said.
"Through the ordinary course of the design process, things always evolve, especially with historic rehabilitation," she said. "These are minor design changes. There has been no change to the program or what the public can expect from Lexington 21c Museum Hotel."
The first 21c Museum Hotel opened in Louisville in 2006. There are now 21c hotels in Cincinnati and Bentonville, Ark. Another is under construction in Durham, N.C.
The group is waiting approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on plans for the Lexington project. The up to $40 million project is funded through a combination of public and private money. The city and state have committed federal and state money, including $9 million in state tax incentives over a decade, a $6 million loan backed by federal HUD money, a $1 million loan from the city and $5.8 million in tax-increment financing.
Swyers said they must have HUD approval of the plans before going forward. They expect that approval to come soon.
"We hope we get approval very soon," she said. "And hope to be starting construction before the end of the year."