CentrePointe's Dudley Webb discusses development, delays, and detractors

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) It is a dream to change downtown Lexington's skyline.

From the beginning, the CentrePointe project drew attention and critics. It all started with the 2008 demolition of the original buildings on the block to make way for a skycraper that's yet to get off the ground.

"We all had bigger dreams, aspirations, " developer Dudley Webb told WKYT's Bill Bryant as he discussed his development, its delays and its detractors. "We had a lot of setbacks in the course of -- four years were lost during the giant reset button 2008 until 2012. No projects in the world went forward. So people being critical of a five year span when nothing happened, there are reasons for that."

As the economy changed, so did plans for CentrePointe. It went through numerous re-designs, and each time faced scrutiny and skepticism that it would ever get built.

When asked whether the original plan that called for a 40-story tower was feasible, Webb told WKYT that is was. "It was very feasible in that point in time. Obviously, it was a different point in that point in time," responded Webb explaining the impact of the recession changed plans.

The new project that plans to break ground by the end of the month will include what Webb calls a major tenant to move into CentrePointe's office space, creating 200 new jobs. A Jeff Ruby Steakhouse is on board along with a Marriott hotel, 96 new apartments, and a 701 space underground parking garage. Webbs says the underground parking will faciliate street-level retail storefronts.

Through all the changes and downsizing, Webb has had to please a design review board with narrowly gave its blessing earlier this week in a 3-2 vote.

"But often times you will have personal taste interjected into it. And that's where you run into issues. So after we went through this exercise about five times, we said, 'Hey, it's time we either decide thumbs up or thumbs down. If we don't want to do it, we will figure out another use for the property,'" said Webb

While winning theCourthouse Area Design Review Board's apporoval was a challenge, Webb does commend those involved in planning downtown projects.

"The good news was that people did care and now everybody thinks they have a stake in downtown and that's great. We are for that. We tried to listen," said Webb. "We have gone back time and again to try to adjust for people's whims and wishes. We associated an international architect to come in and help us. And no one can every agree. That's the interesting thing about it, but still they all cared."

During the years of delays for the project, the block at the corner of Main and Limestone has been used a makeshift public park and the site for a polo match.

Webb says the site will become a large hole for the beginning of the construction in November. Plans call for the project to be completed by May 2015.

"It's going to be a game changer for downtown," said Webb.

Webb's entire interview with WKYT's Bill Bryant can be seen on this weekend's "Kentucky Newsmakers," which airs at 6 a.m. Sunday on WKYT and 10 a.m. on The CW Lexington.

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