Fayette County

‘People need to feel safe.’ Lexington mayor wants $250,000 to fix city hall entrance.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center in downtown Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. An EOP Architects report shows the city may need to spend up to $5.1 million to fix exterior problems to the building on Main Street.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center in downtown Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. An EOP Architects report shows the city may need to spend up to $5.1 million to fix exterior problems to the building on Main Street. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Mayor Linda Gorton has proposed spending $250,000 to fix safety problems with the entrance of the 1919 city government center that were identified in a report released last week on the building’s troubled exterior.

“We need a building that people can feel safe entering and exiting,” Gorton told the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council during a Tuesday work session. She proposed adding the $250,000 to a planned $20 million bond.

If approved by the council in coming weeks, work could begin immediately, Gorton said.

Most of those safety issues involve the front of the building, including the stone vestibule around the door, which needs to be removed and rebuilt. There are large limestone blocks that are no longer bonded to the exterior of the building that need to be re-attached, according to a report by EOP Architects.

Metal studs that once supported a metal canopy also need to be removed. Those metal studs are causing deterioration to the masonry, the report showed.

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A crack in the stone at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center in downtown Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. An EOP Architects report shows the city may need to spend up to $5.1 million to fix exterior problems to the building on Main Street. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

The report showed the city needed to spend up to $5.1 million to fix exterior problems. Those issues are allowing water to enter the building, resulting in interior damage.

The council on Tuesday gave initial approval to add the $250,000 to the city’s proposed borrowing of $20 million. But it may consider adding the entire $5.1 million in coming weeks before a final vote is taken.

Interest rates — the cost to borrow— are at historic lows. It may make sense for the city to tack on the $5.1 million to the current bond package, some on council said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The council is still mulling whether it should move from its five downtown buildings — including the former 1919 Lafayette Hotel — or stay. Council subcommittees have met for several months to look at the issue. A council meeting on the city’s buildings is set for Oct. 10.

Gorton asked city finance staff to look at how much debt payments would increase if the $5.1 million was added to the bond. City officials said Tuesday they will likely have that information available next week before the council puts the resolution approving its bond package on its agenda for a first reading Sept. 26.

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