Fayette County

Peoples Bank building gets additional $150,000 in city money

The Lexington Urban County Council agreed Thursday to give an additional $150,000 to a nonprofit that wants to move a mid-20th century bank and transform it into a community center.

The council voted 8-4 to give the money to the Warwick Foundation, a nonprofit that is spearheading efforts to save and move the bank currently on South Broadway. The city has already allocated $150,000 to Warwick in the current budget. The total amount of city money in the project is now $300,000. The additional $150,000 will come from unspent funds in the current budget and will not be diverted from other capital projects, city officials have said.

Four council members voted against the additional allocation: Amanda Bledsoe, Fred Brown, Jennifer Mossotti and Jennifer Scutchfield.

In previous meetings, council members raised questions about the additional cost to move the bank and also questioned whether Warwick Foundation will have the money needed to continue to operate the center once it is moved. Others who backed the additional allocation pointed to the amount of private money that had already been raised to save the bank.

Plans call for the bank to be moved from its location on South Broadway to a donated site on the Rupp Arena High Street parking lot. It will then become the People’s Portal, a type of community center that can also be rented for private events.

The additional $150,000 from the city was needed after bids to move the bank were $400,000 higher than originally budgeted. The Warwick Foundation has agreed to give an additional $300,000 to make up for the $400,000 shortfall. That’s in addition to the $300,000 it previously pledged to help the project.

The bank has been slated for demolition several times.

The public has given $260,000 as part of a public fundraising campaign, and engineers, architects and other building trades professionals have donated work to save the building. The Lexington Center Corp., which controls the Rupp Arena lot, donated the site and $75,000. Langley Properties has donated the building and gave $75,000 to help with relocation costs.

Warwick Foundation officials have said if they received the additional city funding, they hoped to sign a contract soon so the building could be moved this summer while Rupp Arena is closed for renovation.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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