A Lexington developer and a Louisville firm are likely to be project managers for the possible renovation of the old Fayette County Courthouse on Main Street.
City officials selected AU Associates, a Lexington firm that specializes in reuse and affordable housing projects, and CityVisions Associates of Louisville, this month. The firms were one of two groups to respond to a request for proposals to help with refurbishing the courthouse.
The Urban County Council probably will take a final vote on the contract soon.
A recent study of the old courthouse — which was opened to the public in 1900 — showed that $38 million would be needed to renovate the building. That price includes finance, design and a $4 million contingency fund.
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Mayor Jim Gray has set aside $22 million in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year for the courthouse. The Urban County Council has not signed off on the proposal. It won't take a final vote on the budget until late June.
The $500,000 that will be used to pay AU and City Visions was approved by the council in November.
The city is up against a tight deadline for the project, said Sally Hamilton, the city's chief administrative officer.
A state historic tax credit would pay part of the cost of the project. The city has submitted its intent to file for the tax credit with the state, Hamilton told the council Tuesday.
But that program ends June 30, 2017. To qualify for the full amount of tax credits, the city needs to start moving on the project, she said.
The city estimates that state and federal historic tax credits could pay for as much as $11 million of the $38 million project.
If the council signs off on Gray's $22 million proposal, the total contract for AU Associates and CityVisions will not exceed $1.27 million, Hamilton said.
A government cannot claim tax credits for the project. That's why AU Associates and CityVisions are essential, Hamilton said.
"We need a for-profit entity," Hamilton said. "This is kind of the project that is going to involve numerous skills and people who have done this before."
The for-profit entity may lease the building from the government; then, when the renovation is completed, it can be returned to the city, Hamilton said.
"In order to get this project done and to get the tax credit money, we need to hire this professional help now," Hamilton said.
In addition to helping manage the project, AU and CityVisions would help find possible tenants and attract more private money, Hamilton said.
The study — by EOP Architects and Preservation Design Partnership, or PDP, a Philadelphia firm — said years of neglect and poorly executed renovations have left the courthouse in disrepair. Construction costs include a new roof; an overhaul of the electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems; and restoration of the masonry on the outside of the building.