Seven years after it was announced, Lexington's long-stalled CentrePointe project might be moving ahead.
"The developers have reached an agreement in principle with a third party to develop the project. We will follow up over the course of the following week with further details," Mason Miller, a city attorney, said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Brenna Angel, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, said she had no other information.
The announcement comes almost two days after a deadline set by the city for an unidentified investor and The Webb Cos. to come to an agreement for the project to proceed.
The project has been a source of controversy and citizen scorn because of its many construction delays and lack of public details about its financing.
Vice Mayor Steve Kay said that he expects council members will be briefed on the new plan next week when the council returns from its break, but that he hasn't received any other information.
"I hope that it means that we're finally ready to go forward," Kay said. "That's what is in everyone's best interest, for this project to go forward."
Liza Hendley Betz, whose business, Failte Irish Imports, faces the empty CentrePointe block, was jubilant at the news.
"Lord, I've got shivers. That's great news," she said. "I'm hoping they're saying that because they're sure."
The Upper Street area near her store has been clogged with construction for the planned 21c Museum Hotel, "but at least at 21c they are working every day. ... There's a big difference when the weeds (at CentrePointe) are getting as tall as the cranes," she said.
Renee Jackson, president of Downtown Lexington Corp., said she looks forward to seeing the details on how CentrePointe will now be developed.
"We couldn't be more happy to have something happening there, because it is a pivotal block," Jackson said. "I believe it will lead to more development downtown."
On April 28, the city demanded that The Webb Cos. fill in the CentrePointe block, but that demand was put on hold until the new private-development partner could strike a deal.
In May, the city gave The Webb Cos. 90 days to find a way forward with the potential partner. The city and The Webb Cos. said at that time that the decision "will be made in 90 days or less," and that neither the development team nor the city would discuss the matter publicly until a decision had been made.
Dudley Webb could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
The 90-day window agreement was the latest in seven years of claims and counter-claims about the project, which was announced in 2008. The project was to cost $250 million and include a hotel, condominiums, retail and an office complex.
For years, the filled-in excavation site was nicknamed "CentrePasture," planted with grass after the block's buildings were torn down. Most recently, it has been the long-term site for towering cranes and a dug-out pit, ostensibly for an underground parking garage.