Lexington officials have given addiction support groups until Aug. 1 to find new meeting space so the city can find a tenant for an 1800s building in Gratz Park.
The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, which leased the first floor of the building for several years, recently vacated the more than 1,500 square-foot building that also has a full unfinished basement. Several Alcoholics Anonymous or AA groups use the basement of the city-owned building as a meeting space several times a week, city officials said Tuesday.
Geoff Reed, the city’s general service commissioner, said the city is in discussions with a potential tenant. That means those AA groups will need to find another location to hold meetings, Reed said.
The city is working with those groups — more than five — to help find new meeting space in either city-owned buildings or other downtown locations, he said. The city had reached out to one of those groups that use the building earlier this spring and discovered that several other AA groups were also using the space. Originally the groups had until July to find a new address. After the city discovered more groups using that space, the deadline to vacate was pushed back until August.
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“There are a lot of issues with that building,” Reed said. The basement is not handicap accessible and has no bathroom. The renovations needed in that building will also mean the AA groups will need to vacate.
The brick building, which is behind the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, was constructed as classroom space for Transylvania University during the 19th century. It was deemed the “kitchen" by the students of the college and is sometimes referred to as the “Old Kitchen.” It is the only building of the original Transylvania campus left.
Reed said the city eventually took over ownership of the building that is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s not clear how long the city has owned the property.
The city hopes the next tenant will be able to help the city defray the considerable cost of maintaining the historic property.
“It costs an awful lot to maintain,” Reed said. “The real cost is the upkeep. In the short term, we would have to put $300,000 into that property. Over a 10-year period, we estimate it could be as much as a half-million dollars.”
Reed told the Lexington Urban County Council during a Tuesday work session they have an interested tenant but a final deal has not yet been signed.