The developer of CentrePointe in downtown Lexington fired back at city officials in a 15-page letter Wednesday, saying the city was wrong to demand that the development site be restored because no work had been done there recently.
The letter, signed by Webb Companies manager Ronald Tritschler, provided invoices and emails from three contractors that the developer said have worked on the downtown block during the past 60 days.
The letter also accuses the city of trying to thwart the project by creating negative publicity.
"Your letter stands out as a clear indication that rather than supporting the project, there appears to be a concerted effort to thwart it at every opportunity," the letter said, adding that negative publicity generated by the city's demands could have resulted in a loss of a "prime tenant." The letter did not name the tenant.
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Dudley Webb of Webb Companies declined to comment on the letter Wednesday.
It came a day after the city released a letter written by Mason Miller, a lawyer for the city, demanding that the CentrePointe site be "restored to its pre-existing condition."
City lawyers cited a December 2013 agreement signed by CentrePointe developers and the city. The agreement said that if no work was done on the site for 60 consecutive days, the developers would fill in the hole excavated for a proposed three-story underground parking garage. The hole takes up a full block in the heart of the city.
Under terms of the agreement, if the developers do not fill in the site, the Urban County Government could take out a mortgage on the property to pay for filling in the hole. The agreement does not specify what constitutes "work."
The drama surrounding the site has been brewing since 2008, when a block of buildings was razed for the development. Construction did not begin on the parking garage until late 2013. The site has been excavated, and two tower cranes have sat on the site since December.
The site — bounded by Main, Vine and Upper streets and South Limestone — is supposed to include a hotel, an apartment building, an office tower, and retail and restaurant space.
Webb said Tuesday that the group has located buyers for bonds needed to build the underground parking garage. Those bonds were to be sold through a nonprofit arm of the Kentucky League of Cities. Terri Johnson, a spokeswoman for the League of Cities, said there was no news to report on the sale of the bonds.
Attached to the developer's letter are invoices from Jarboe Construction dated April 22, 23 and 24. The invoices show that Jarboe Construction was doing erosion control and other work on the site.
The letter also included emails from Randy Walker Electric that said two employees had worked on the site March 16, which had been verified by the employee time cards. Another employee was working on the site March 30, the email said. An invoice from Kellogg Kimsey, another contractor, shows the last date of work it did was March 2.
The Webb letter says the December 2013 agreement requires that the city prove "no work" has been done to complete the underground parking garage before requiring that the site be restored. The emails and invoices show work has been done, Tritschler said in his letter.
The letter ends with the Webb Companies demanding that the city retract its letter about filling in the site and tell the public the letter was "in error." Miller said he would have to read the letter before deciding what the city's next steps would be.
"We would like to review the letter before taking any official stance," he said. "But we know that no substantial work has occurred on the site."