City unveils plan for historic Fayette County Courthouse

(Renderings of the Fayette County Courthouse. Credit: K. Norman Berry Associates and Deborah...
(Renderings of the Fayette County Courthouse. Credit: K. Norman Berry Associates and Deborah Burke Partners)(WKYT)
Published: May. 24, 2016 at 4:32 PM EDT
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City officials on Tuesday unveiled its plan for the former Fayette County Courthouse in downtown Lexington.

The old courthouse, which was built in 1898, will be used for a restaurant, office space, Lexington visitor center, events and a bourbon bar, according to the city.

Project managers said Tuesday that they are in negotiations with the Breeder's Cup corporate offices to relocate to the historic courthouse building.

The top floor of the building will be leased as event space, with the ability to accommodate up to 300 people.

The proposed design elements include a dramatic new two floor atrium, rehabilitation of the rotunda/dome, glass floors which will allow users of the building a view of the rehabilitated rotunda and new lighting inside and outside the building.

The $30 million renovation plan is funded by the city of Lexington and state and federal historic preservation tax credits. About $8 million of the renovation is coming from state and federal historic preservation tax credits. Currently, $22 has been approved in the city's current year budget. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said the city will not be needed for further investments.

"With the restaurant, Visit Lex, with the office space rented and the event space-- this will all be revenue generating for the project and then eliminates or removes the requirement for the city to actually contribute downstream to the project," Mayor Gray said, “The project will actually be self-sustaining so the city wont’ be required to add to its original investment.”

The anticipated final completion date of the project is set for Spring 2018.

Anyone with questions/concerns regarding the proposed construction is invited to attend a public meeting at the 5th/3rd Pavilion on Wednesday, June 1st at 12:00p.m.

The Lexington Herald-Leader

that Ouita Michel, chef and owner of Holly Hill Inn in Midway and several other area restaurants, is in talks to put a restaurant on the side of the courthouse that faces Cheapside Pavilion. The newspaper says the bourbon bar would be on the ground floor facing the 21c Museum Hotel on Upper Street.

The three-floor building has been closed after officials discovered a plethora of issues, including structural problems, lead and asbestos.

Rusting steal and spalling stone on four balconies are just the beginning of problems at the old courthouse.

Engineers say the roof of the basement area, which extends under the Short Street sidewalk, has extensive water damage. Steel beams in the basement roof are also deteriorating

Work is being done to remove asbestos from the building, and preparations are being made to begin construction outside the building. The city will eventually begin rehabbing the two floor atrium, make repairs to the rotunda and add new lighting inside and outside the building.

Preliminary construction schedule

  • June 2016 - Environmental remediation
  • July/August 2016 - Construction inside and outside the building
  • January 2017 - Construction inside
  • January 2018 - Tenant build out and fit up