Lexington took a step toward building a new Urban County Government Center Tuesday.
The Urban County Council tentatively approved hiring FM Solutions to draft a request for proposal that includes a location study and specifications to begin the design phase for a new city hall.
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Hiring FM Solutions, a Phoenix-based facilities management firm, still requires two official council readings for final approval. First reading is scheduled for Thursday.
The council also unanimously agreed to appoint a task force to work with FM Solutions as it prepares the draft proposal.
The request for proposal would be used to hire a consultant to lead the city in a location feasibility study and to design the new government center.
Council members have generally agreed that the city needs to build a new government center rather than continuing to make repairs on its current buildings. At issue has been where that new building should be.
A downtown facilities master plan completed by FM Solutions identified the current site of the Government Center Annex, the annex garage, police headquarters and the Phoenix Garage as the ideal location for a city hall.
Council members wanted a location study and public input before declaring FM Solutions' proposed footprint as the location for a new government center.
Lexington has a "unique opportunity to redraw downtown" as the city moves forward on a new government center, said Councilman Jay McChord.
Clete Benken, principal with Kinzelman Kline Gossman in Covington, made a presentation to the council that recommended incorporating the principles of the city's downtown master plan into the design and location of a new government center. Those principles include a pedestrian friendly downtown with an active street life and storefronts.
Ideas to do that include building ground-floor retail space into the new government center campus and connecting it to civic open spaces such as a proposed linear park along Vine Street, Phoenix Park or the courthouse plaza.
The new government center will be a catalyst for other private development at adjacent properties, Benken said.
FM Solutions will spend at least two months drafting the request for proposal, said Kimra Cole, the city's general services commissioner. The work will cost the city about $25,000.