High Street condo project gets restarted

Work has resumed on a major Lexington condominium project that went into foreclosure last year when construction was almost complete.

Michael Kerwin, whose construction company won the bid to finish the exterior, said he hoped that work would be completed by late fall on the complex at East High Street and Woodland Avenue, across from Ramsey's restaurant.

Kerwin is on a design team assembled by Central Bank & Trust Co., which bought The Mark Lofts at a foreclosure sale. The team will make decisions about finishing the project, which has been renamed High Point.

Other team members are bank representatives and Kathy Riggins of Interspace Limited, a commercial interior design firm.

Construction on the $8 million project was halted in July 2008 after developers apparently ran out of money when the building was 75 percent to 80 percent complete.

The developer, Tribecca Development LLC, cited "the downturn in the economy and the depressed real estate and lending markets" as the cause of failure.

Central Bank said Tribecca had defaulted on $8.2 million in loans and Visa card payments. The bank initiated foreclosure in September.

At a court-ordered sale Dec. 22, Central Bank paid $5 million for the building, which was planned as residential condos in the neighborhood between the University of Kentucky and downtown.

During a walk-through on Monday, Kerwin said portions of the original work were being taken out and redone. "The bank said if we find something not done right, 'make it right. Don't cut corners,'" he said.

Central is "committed to this being a Class A living facility," Riggins said.

The bank wants to fix "everything that needs to be fixed," she said. "The project is in such a prominent place, and the bank is just down the street. If it's not done properly, it will be a reflection on them."

For example, because of concern about the quality of brick used, all the exterior brick was pulled off and replaced. Siding will be removed and replaced with brick.

The majority of window casements and panes of glass were taken out and replaced. The main entrance on East High Street will be reworked, Kerwin said, perhaps to incorporate a water feature.

When completed, "This is going to be finished like a high-quality home," he said.

The 36 units range in size from 1,000 to 1,700 square feet. Twelve are two-story penthouses; 24 are one-bedroom condos.

Prices have not been established, but Kerwin expects units to range from "the low $200,000s to mid-$400,000s."

Although the project is near UK, "these are not for students," he said. "They're aimed at professors at the university and young professionals."

John Michler, president of the Aylesford Place Neighborhood Association, said he was not aware of Central Bank's plans for the building.

When the project was overcome with financial problems, "People were afraid someone would get it cheap and finish it up on the cheap and set the rents low, and nearby property values would suffer," he said.

"The original developers got permission to do that project on the grounds it would be nice, upscale condos. That's what the immediate neighbors would like to see happen."