Op-Ed

Point-by-point on CentrePointe

At issue | Oct. 26 commentary by Hayward Wilkirson: "Counting the days; The CentrePointe Games: How the city can avoid another losing role"


Hayward Wilkirson of Preserve Lexington has once again pulled the emergency stop cord on the CentrePointe train so that he can complain that it is late arriving at the station.

Our hope was that, now that this project has been approved, he would stop beating this dead horse and join us in trying to make this project and our downtown the best that it can be.

He is evidently still intent on continuing his wayward games, stirring up controversy and refusing to disclose the rest of this story, including the following pertinent time line:

■ 13,727 days since The Webb Companies began doing business.

■ 9,602 days since the historic preservationists decided not to nominate any buildings on this block to the National Register of Historic Places because they had been substantially altered or weren't historic.

■ 9,131 days since a real group of historic preservationists asked us to save 17 dilapidated buildings and to transform them into Victorian Square.

■ 1,643 days since the Convention & Tourism Bureau suggested a new hotel for this site.

■ 1,179 days since we disclosed this with the then mayor, vice mayor, the preservationists and this newspaper.

■ 617 days since we gained control of the block and proposed this $250 million mixed-use complex.

■ 596 days since Hayward objected, calling this "a thriving entertainment district," even though the buildings were falling in and only 35 people worked there.

■ 591 days since we attended Preserve Lexington's meeting at the Kentucky Theater.

■ 587 days since the Courthouse Area Design Review Board's meeting was postponed for 60 days while everyone searched for common ground.

■ 571 days since we meet with Wilkirson and his attorney who insisted that nothing short of saving all 14 buildings was acceptable.

■ 529 days since we proposed saving the Rosenberg and The Dame façades, only to learn through the newspaper that ours was "a token, cosmetic gesture that is totally ineffective in addressing the real issues."

■ 519 days since we concluded an agreement for the funding of this project from European sources.

■ 516 days since Essex Engineering tendered its report that most of the buildings contained asbestos, were marginally acceptable or unacceptable for human occupancy and were beyond economic viability.

■ 515 days since the former chairman of Kentucky's Preservation Review Board testified that "there is no context, no unifying theme, no sense of history remaining to this block" and time had come for redevelopment.

■ 500 days since the Courthouse Area Design Review Board listened to five hours of arguments and unanimously approved granting permits for demolition of these buildings. By separate decision, the board also ruled that we were entitled to construct our new project since it met their requirements.

■ 495 days since these decisions were appealed and injunctive relief requested.

■ 476 days since the appeal was heard and Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled that the law made no provision to halt demolition of buildings on this downtown block.

■ 475 days since demolition proceeded.

■ 407 days since we were informed of a major investor's death and we received assurances from his partner that our agreement would be honored.

■ 405 days since the financial markets crashed, leaving the world in the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

■ 365 days since we were again assured by the successors that our funding was forthcoming.

■ 346 days since we were advised that legal approvals should be issued the week of Dec. 15.

■ 299 days since I met with the heir in Zurich who assured me the commitment would be honored.

■ 261 days since Woodford and I returned to Zurich to meet with this successor and we were again told that approval was imminent.

■ 218 days since the investor's trustee reported the funding was coming.

■ 194 days since the trustee and I returned to Switzerland to push it.

■ 143 days since we offered to dress the block with grass and fencing.

■ 93 days since the heirs assured us the estate matters were being resolved.

■ 46 days since the state approved the TIF.

■ 39 days since the grass and fencing were done.

■ 14 days since I was in Switzerland to again pursue our funding.

We make no apologies to anyone for our developments in this community. We have done nothing illegal, immoral or in violation of any rules, regulations or any sense of fair play.

This is a private development of private property being paid for by private funds. We still aren't sure when the project will begin, since we do not control the funding. But it will be done. We have been at this for 37 years now, and we have never announced a major project that we didn't deliver.

In the interim, we would propose that we all put our differences behind us and move on to more productive things.

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