A proposed high-end townhouse complex very close to Rupp Arena on High Street has been scuttled because of a proposed $230 million expansion and renovation of the Lexington Convention Center.
Tom Cheek, architect-builder of West High Park, said there are still too many unknowns with the proposed expansion of the convention center for the townhouse project to move forward. Plans call for the convention center to be expanded into the parking lot directly behind Rupp Arena, which is close to the property line of the proposed townhouse complex on High and Jefferson streets. In addition, the city plans to tear down the Jefferson Street bridge and close that street, further complicating the townhouse project.
The four proposed townhouses sold before construction began, but the prospective owners have been refunded their deposits, Cheek said. The base price for each unit was $1.3 million to $1.6 million, with the price rising depending on upgrades.
“We have to wait and see what happens,” Cheek said. “I couldn’t in good faith move forward with this when there are just too many unknowns and too many moving parts.”
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A start date for construction on the convention center — which is attached to Rupp Arena — has been pushed back several times over the past 18 months. Lexington Center Corporation officials have said they hope construction will start sometime this year.
The proposed townhouses would have overlooked what was known as the Cox Street parking lot. Plans call for that lot to become the Town Branch Park, a more than 10-acre park the city hopes to build using private funds.
Cheek said he bought the property after a previous $350 million expansion of Rupp Arena and the convention center fell apart in 2014. Not long after he pulled the building permit for the townhouses, the Lexington Center announced it was moving forward with a smaller expansion of the convention center. Lexington Center oversees the convention center and Rupp.
Cheek said it’s still possible the project will move forward, depending on final designs of the convention center and its construction time line. After all four townhouses were sold, Cheek had two people on a waiting list. It’s clear there is a market for upscale townhouses in downtown, Cheek said.
“We had four units and we sold six,” Cheek said.