An unnamed development group has expressed interest in the long-delayed CentrePointe project in downtown Lexington, city and CentrePointe developers announced late Thursday.
That means the city's April 28 demand that The Webb Companies fill in the block will be put on hold.
According to a joint statement from the developers and the city released Thursday night, an "interested private development partner" approached The Webb Companies this week and asked if it could "explore whether the project is right for them."
The potential partner's name was not released — at the group's request — but city officials said they had met with the group and were encouraged.
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"It's early in the process, and the third party hasn't made a firm decision about whether it will be involved in the project," said Susan Straub, a city spokeswoman. "But city officials have met with this group and have confidence in its financial ability to develop a project of this magnitude."
The city has agreed to give the interested development group up to 90 days to fully assess the project. The release also says the city "will delay action on its restoration agreement with the developers."
Thursday's news came after more than a week of back-and-forth between the city and The Webb Companies over the development, which is supposed to include a hotel, an apartment building, an office tower, and retail and restaurant space. A block of buildings was razed for the development in 2008, but excavation for a three-story underground parking garage did not begin until late 2013.
Tower cranes currently sit on the site, but no additional work has been done on the underground garage.
Citing the lack of work, the city sent The Webb Companies a letter April 28 demanding the site be filled in. The letter cited a December agreement between the developers and the city. That agreement said if no work had been completed in 60 days on the underground parking garage, the city could demand that the developer restore the site to its original condition — a grassy field.
The Webb Companies countered that work had continued t the site during the past 60 days and provided the city with emails and invoices from construction crews. Dudley Webb and Joe Rosenberg, a partner in the project, pleaded with the Urban County Council at an April 30 meeting to give the project more time.
On May 1, lawyers for The Webb Companies sent the city a letter asking that its demand to fill in the site be rescinded by Friday or The Webb Companies would sue the city.
"Lexington's patience is wearing thin on CentrePointe, but everyone views this as an important development to the community," Straub said in Thursday's statement. "We need to give this new company time to do its evaluation. This is a private project."
The city has spent no money on the proposed development.
Neither the city nor The Webb Companies had additional comments.
"This statement will be the last public statement by either the city or the development team until the development team, property owners and the new third party make a decision on whether or not to proceed with a new partnership," the statement said. "That decision will be made in 90 days or less."