LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The CentrePointe project has a green light, but it's also got a catch and it's one that Mayor Jim Gray said is an incentive to get the job done.
"What this is, is a unique agreement that allows the CentrePointe project to move forward," explained the Mayor.
The lot isn't even a full two acres, but it's been a big project that has been nearly five years in the making.
"The time has come and the project is probably going to be better by virtue of the delays," said developer Dudley Webb.
The city and the developers reached an agreement on Tuesday that stated the project must move forward once the ground is broken. The agreement stipulated that the work must not be stopped for 60 consecutive days, if so, then the developer must restore the area to the original state. That includes the dirt, the utilities, the four-plank wood fencing, and even the grass. All of this will require a $4.4-million to be set aside, just in case.
"My immediate reaction was, 'Well this has never been required in the history of the state.' Then by the same token, I can also understand that there's always concern in the middle of your downtown, and that's not bad. I mean people care," added Webb.
Mayor Gray called the 60 days a "no-nonsense" window, meaning substantial work must be done.
"Being in the construction business, I've learned that sometimes everything doesn't go perfectly, so this is an acknowledgment of that. But it also is a recognition that the city deserves for the center of the city to be a vital part of the city," Gray said.
"Obviously the city wants this thing to happen, as do we, so it's in our best interest to get it finished," said Webb.
The only exceptions in the agreement are if the project never starts, if the project is completed, or if the developers complete the restoration. Webb said that the agreement also allows for the exception of work being delayed because of "force majeure," or acts of God, like flooding or other natural disasters.
Barriers are expected to go up this weekend, then the project will begin with an excavation of the lot. Webb said that will involve digging through roughly 30 feet of limestone to build the three story underground parking garage. Webb said the plan is to have the garage complete by the spring of 2014, the office buildings by May of 2015 and the hotel by September of that same year.
The developers hope to turn the piece of property into office buildings and apartments, and expect to attract some well-paying jobs for the city.