The downtown building at Esplanade and East Main Street that houses Natasha's Bistro & Bar was sold Tuesday to Lexington businessman Greg McDonald.
McDonald bought the building for $2.6 million through Main & Esplanade LLC.
"Greg is lead partner in buying the building," said businessman Ted Mims, who will manage the property. Mims declined to say if there were other investors.
The building, previously owned by Farzin Sadr, was scheduled to be sold April 11 at a master commissioner sale to raise the principal amount of $2.5 million owed to PBI Bank and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government in past-due property taxes. The building was pulled from the foreclosure sale after Sadr said it was under contract to be sold privately.
Gene Williams, owner of Natasha's, said he was excited that the building and its tenants "got an owner interested in downtown."
Williams said he looks forward to working with McDonald on plans for adding wider sidewalks along Esplanade and being able to close the street for brief periods of time in order to stage events there.
McDonald bought the building at 112 Esplanade and 223-225 East Main Street and 239 East Main Street because he "likes what's happening downtown, and he loves the building," Mims said.
No major changes are planned for the three-story building, which Mims described as being in good condition except for some maintenance issues involving the roof.
About eight years ago, Sadr, an architect and owner of Design Management, consolidated three small buildings at East Main Street and Esplanade into a $2.7 million retail-office-residential complex. A third story with four luxury apartments was added to two of the buildings.
Sadr said he was undercapitalized when the recession hit in 2009 and exhausted his financial reserves. As a consequence, he did not pay property taxes in 2009 or 2010. When tax payments are missed, penalties are stiff, he said.
McDonald will be looking for a couple of new tenants, including one to take a second-floor space overlooking East Main Street that was vacated recently by a hair salon.
Three residential units on the third floor are occupied, Mims said.
Dupree Financial Group and Natasha's, an art and entertainment restaurant, have long-term leases and will not be affected by a change in ownership. The Town Branch Market opened this spring in the corner location on Esplanade.
The new owner "seems to have adequate financial resources from what I can tell," said Tom Dupree, whose financial business has been in the building for several years. "Anytime you run a building, you've got to be able to pay for things that go wrong. It helps to have somebody who can do that."