Todd sent developer supportive letter

President Lee Todd sent a letter of encouragement to one of the developers of the downtown project that would be built where popular bars and music venues — including The Dame, Mia’s and Buster’s — are currently located.

On March 4, The Webb Companies unveiled the $250 million CentrePointe project, which would include a 40-story, 243-room hotel. Since then, architect James Culpepper has brought the height down to 35 stories.

In a letter to Woodford Webb dated March 4, Todd called CentrePointe “the type of visionary project that will transform our downtown corridor.”

“It also will help create a downtown atmosphere that will help us attract and retain innovative and creative students, faculty, and staff — the very individuals who will help us build the kind of global economy this community needs,” Todd said in the letter.

In an e-mail to the Kernel last night, Todd said that while he understands the point of view of students who have expressed concern about the project, he believes CentrePointe will help strengthen the economy and revitalize downtown Lexington.

Below Todd’s signature on the letter is “Lee T. Todd, Jr., President,” and the letter was on UK stationery. However, Todd said that while he wrote the letter as president, he did not state whether or not the CentrePointe project has UK’s official approval.

“I understand, though, that when I write as president of the institution that that carries with it a certain amount of weight and credibility,” Todd said. “And I certainly was speaking in my capacity as president and, specifically, to how I believe this project could have benefit for the community, the downtown core and, by extension, the university.”

The letter is addressed “Dear Woodford” and signed “Lee.” In an e-mail to the Kernel last night, Todd said he knew Webb “only in the context we are both involved in the civic life of the community.”

Nick Sprouse, the general manager of The Dame, said he is not surprised at Todd’s support because UK’s relationship with city government has led to many town-and-gown connections.

He also said The Dame does not yet have definite plans for a new location, but it and other businesses on the Rosenberg Block must evacuate by July, according to an March 28 Kernel story. Joe Rosenberg, who owns The Dame and many other buildings on the block where the hotel is planned, enacted a buyout clause in the business’s lease, said Dame general manager Nick Sprouse in an e-mail March 27.

The CentrePointe project will not be reviewed by the city for at least a month, though that does not prevent any demolition.

Building a hotel in downtown Lexington will cause college-age people to lose a lot from a musical and cultural standpoint, Sprouse said.

“I can’t imagine a 20-year-old would be looking forward to a luxury hotel,” he said.