A controversial pedway has been withdrawn from the design of the CentrePointe project, at least for now.
In a letter to the Courthouse Area Design Review Board, CentrePointe attorney Kimberly Bryant said the developers, the Webb Companies, are withdrawing the pedway from the design to be considered later this month "in order to minimize the pedway issue as a possible distraction from the construction and financing of the project."
Bryant said the developer "recognizes that some in the community have questioned the need or appropriateness of the pedway." The pedway would have passed over South Upper Street and connected two buildings — the circa 1846 McAdams & Morford building and the 1860 building that houses McCarthy's Bar and Failte Irish Imports.
The review board will consider the application, minus the pedway, at 2 p.m. March 28 at City Hall and could approve the design for construction, said Billy Van Pelt, design review officer.
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Any subsequent changes to the design would have to go through the same process. Bryant left open the possibility that the Webb Companies might seek to add the pedway back, saying that it "deserves further discussion and study, and (the developer) reserves the right to file an application to amend any permit or authorization that may be granted for the project to include a pedway element."
The pedway was originally designed to provide covered access to a parking garage but came under fire as a "throwback" to the 1980s, an era when the Webb Companies built several pedways in downtown Lexington.
Most warmer-climate cities have torn down existing pedways and aren't building new ones, in part because they are expensive to maintain.
Members of the Courthouse Area Design Review Board did not seem to be embracing the new pedway and were seen as likely to reject it anyway. When the new CentrePointe design was unveiled last month, at least two of the five design board members expressed little patience with the idea that Webb hotel patrons might need the pedway to safely traverse downtown Lexington's streets.
"I live downtown and it's perfectly safe," said Michael Speaks, the dean of the University of Kentucky's College of Design. "Probably safer than the suburbs."