Lexington will be challenged by the development team that is making a play for the hole in the center of our city.
The two young men at the heart of the deal, Matt Collins and Atit Jariwalla, come from radically different backgrounds but their combined vision is a development on the block now known as CentrePointe that can transform Lexington's downtown and, ultimately, the city.
It's a brash, perhaps even an arrogant goal, but one that's backed by serious money and experience. Lexington's government and civic leaders should listen closely.
Although they stopped short of saying that without the city as a principal tenant the project is a no-go, it's clear that without that commitment there will be a very different project, if there's one at all.
It is way too early to say that the city should sign on and agree to lease the landmark city hall they promise to build as an anchor to the block. The mayor and council, who have been considering relocating the government, have a primary and profound obligation to vet any proposal closely, to drive as hard a bargain as they can.
But, they are also obligated to approach this with open minds, considering whether the city can responsibly help fill this hole that remains after the last of many deadlines has passed.
A reassuring aspect of their proposal is the desire to build structures that, while modern in amenities and feel, still reflect the built fabric of our community.
In Lexington most people will praise the qualities that have attracted this investment — quality of life, physical beauty, affordability, a major university, pleasant people and a lively cultural scene. But we also have a community that has become in many ways an outpost, a place where companies have branches not headquarters, where too many bright young people move elsewhere to find challenging and rewarding work.
Collins, the son of a wealthy investor and businessman with Kentucky roots, has chosen to make Central Kentucky his home. Jariwalla — who grew up in his family's motel in St. Louis cleaning rooms and went on to Yale then Stanford Business School en route to building Bridgeton Holdings, a New York-based firm that develops and manages large real estate projects — sees this as a project that can change not just one neighborhood but an entire community.
It's all a little scary, a leap to a different way of thinking about how city halls get built and what Lexington can aspire to be. But there is no safety, no future in the failed project that's now a blight on our downtown.
For more information on developer Bridgeton Holdings, go to Bridgetonholdings.com.