CentrePointe review delayed 60 days

By Diane Dawson

The design for CentrePointe, the proposed development for downtown Lexington, will not go under review for another 60 days, the Courthouse Area Design Review Board unanimously agreed at a meeting yesterday.

The meeting lasted less than 15 minutes but drew a crowd of more than 500 people at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center. Only speakers and media personnel were allowed in the council chambers. The rest of the crowd gathered in the ballroom on the first floor and spilled out onto the sidewalk outside the building.

The plan to change Lexington’s skyline by building a hotel skyscraper on the Rosenberg Block has spurred controversy since it was officially proposed March 4. The block — located between the corners of West Main and South Upper streets and West Vine and South Limestone streets — is currently home to popular bars and music venues such as The Dame, Mia’s and Buster’s.

Joe Rosenberg, who owns most of the block, applied for demolition permits for buildings along South Limestone Street on March 24.

On March 26, the Division of Historic Preservation put a 30-day hold on the demolition permits to determine if any buildings have historical significance.

The 60-day hold on reviewing the design plans for the new building does not have an impact on the proposed demolitions.

Darby Turner, the attorney representing CMMI, the architecture and design firm planning the proposed development, spoke about the need to postpone the hearing for 60 days. It would be better for everyone involved in this project to take the extra time and come to some kind of agreement, Darby said.

Preserve Lexington, a non-profit group working to preserve the downtown area, is excited about the postponement because it gives the community more time for dialogue with the architects, said Jessica Case, a local attorney and a volunteer with Preserve Lexington.

“Preserve Lexington wants creative infill, not demolishing what we already have,” Case said.

When the development was announced, the hotel was proposed to be 40 stories high. Since then, the architect, James Culpepper, has brought the height down to 35 stories. But according to the meeting’s agenda, the review board’s guidelines will probably not allow the building to be taller than the 30-story Fifth Third Building.

“It’s funny how the sense of scale can be frightening to people,” Culpepper said. “I am excited to be working on this project here in Lexington.”

The postponement is a positive sign because it means the developers and their opponents want to work something out, said Hayward Wilkirson, president of the Board of Directors for Preserve Lexington.

“The devil is in the details,” Wilkirson said in reference to both sides working toward an agreement on the hotel development.