City backs off demand developers fill-in CentrePointe site; new group interested in project

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The City of Lexington is delaying its demand that CentrePointe’s developers fill-in the construction site hole downtown because an unnamed development group has expressed interest in the project, according to a joint news release from the city and developers.

Neither party would say who the new potential player is, but that the city was satisfied the new party has the money needed.  Lexington had said that since no work had been done on the underground parking garage for 60-consecutive days, the developers were required by mutual agreement, to fill-in the hole at the construction site.

The developers, The Webb Companies, said it had proof work had been done at the site during that 60-day period, and the company threatened to sue the city.  This latest news from Thursday evening, apparently puts that on hold.

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The city has agreed to allow the new development group up to three months to assess the project.  The long-delayed project is supposed to include a hotel, retail and restaurant space, an office tower and apartment building. 

A block of buildings was torn down to make way for the development in 2008.  Construction on the underground parking garage didn’t get underway until late last year. 

The following is the joint statement from CentrePointe developers and the city that was released Thursday night:

In the spirit of cooperation and with the goal of a successful development, the city and the CentrePointe development team have been in conversation.

An interested private development partner approached the CentrePointe development team early this week and has asked for time to explore whether the project is right for them.

This new third party has asked that they remain unnamed at this time. "It’s early in the process and the third party hasn’t made a firm decision about whether it will be involved in the project,” said Susan Straub, city spokeswoman. “But city officials have met with this group and have confidence in its financial ability to develop a project of this magnitude.”

Straub said, “Lexington’s patience is wearing thin on CentrePointe, but everyone views this as an important development to the community. We need to give this new company time to do its evaluation. This is a private project.”

The plan means that the city will delay action on its restoration agreement with the developers. The agreement requires that developers either restore the site or provide $4.4 million to return the downtown block to its pre-existing condition (before it was excavated for an underground parking garage).

This statement will be the last public statement by either the city or the development team until the development team, property owners and the new third party make a decision on whether or not to proceed with a new partnership. That decision will be made in 90 days or less.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.