The building that houses Natasha's Bistro & Bar at Esplanade and East Main Street is scheduled to be sold April 11 at a master commissioner sale.
The master commissioner Web site lists the property — 112 Esplanade and 223-235 East Main Street and 239 East Main Street — for sale to raise the principal amount of $2.5 million owed to PBI Bank and the Urban-County Government.
Building owner Farzin Sadr said he is working with two local banks to avert the public sale.
"The buildings are worth way more than the amount owed to the bank, but there is not enough time for us to sell," Sadr said.
Tenants in the building include Dupree Financial Group and Natasha's, an art and entertainment restaurant. Dupree and Natasha's have long-term leases that they said would not be affected by a change in ownership.
Sadr said he was undercapitalized when the recession hit in 2009 and exhausted his financial reserves. As a result, he did not pay property taxes in 2009, and the 2010 taxes are due now, he said.
"When taxes are missed, the penalties are really heavy," he said.
Sadr, a Lexington architect and owner of Design Management, said he owns other property and is working with a bank to potentially assume the financing of all his property.
"I am trying to move all of them out of one bank and to another," he said. If that move is successful, "we should be OK because the value (of all the property) is far more than the loan amounts are."
Sadr also said he would consider selling the building if someone can be found to pay off the loan and property taxes.
George D. Smith, an attorney for PBI Bank, said he could not comment on the case. But he noted it is not unusual for Master Commissioner James Frazier III to announce sales that end up being canceled. Sales get canceled for various reasons, Smith said.
About seven years ago, Sadr consolidated three small buildings at Main Street and Esplanade into one with retail, apartments and office space.
Tenants in the building spoke highly of Sadr on Wednesday.
"The difficulties Farzin has had, I'm just sick about it because he's worked so hard to do something beautiful," said Tom Dupree Jr.
Dupree's office space, with large first-floor windows and paneled walls, "has become a little synonymous with our business," he said. "I like being able to put something in the window, like a painting. It looks pretty."
The building "really has a wonderful patina," Dupree said. "It is just a good place to be."
Gene Williams, an owner of Natasha's, said he hoped the building would remain locally owned, although he could not afford to buy it.
"We're not well-heeled," he said.