Downtown hotel plan goes up

By Rebecca Sweeney

A meeting will be held today that could determine the future of the hotel development that is proposed for the Rosenberg Block.

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.

Most of the block is within the Courthouse Area Design Overlay Zone, so the Courthouse Area Design Review Board must approve the intended design of the building before the process can continue.

The public meeting will be held at 2 p.m. today in the Council Chamber on the 2nd floor of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center located at 200 E. Main St.

Susan Straub, communications director for Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, said the meeting will cover a wide range of topics, including demolition permit applications, the Downtown Master Plan and the CentrePointe project.

“This is a required step of the process. They have to get certain approval from the city before they can move on,” Straub said.

The Courthouse Area Design Review Board’s design guidelines try to preserve the character of downtown and allow improvement.

The guidelines state: “Preservation of Lexington’s heritage is important to its sense of community and its economic development. Many of the structures in the Courthouse Area have historic value, even some that have experienced alterations. It is important to consider the significance of their character-defining features, including basic forms, materials and details when planning improvements.”

Before the review board approves the CentrePointe project, it will determine whether or not the project adheres to the board’s four basic principles of design. The project must maintain a clear definition of the street edge, relate to traditional buildings in the area, enhance the street level as an inviting place for pedestrians and respect a historic building’s traditional character.

“This meeting could have any number of impacts (on the project), or it could have none,” Straub said.

If the review board approves CentrePointe’s design, the Urban County Council and the Tax-Increment Financing Commission will have to approve the financing before development construction can begin, said Dudley Webb, a developer in the project, in a March 5 Kernel story.

Lexington businessman Joe Rosenberg applied for demolition permits for buildings on the block, but on March 26, the Division of Historic Preservation put a 30-day hold on the demolition permits to document the historical significance of three of the buildings.

Rosenberg, who owns The Dame and many other buildings on the block, enacted a buyout clause in the business’s lease, said Dame general manager Nick Sprouse in a March 28 Kernel story.

Sprouse said yesterday he hopes the review board will consider the concerns of the community when it makes its decision.

Those concerns, including the future of businesses and entertainment currently on the block, were voiced over the weekend at Preserve Lexington’s “Wake Up Lexington: An Event to Save Our Block.” The event opened the eyes of people who were not aware that the opposition was organized and motivated, Sprouse said.

“It’s absolutely vital that as many people as possible attend this meeting,” he said.

Sprouse said The Dame has been looking for a place to relocate against its wishes.

“The Dame would love to stay at 156 W. Main St.,” he said.