The Crossroads Competition quickly hit a dead end.
Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who heads his family’s Lexington-based construction company, is one of many people critical of the design developer Dudley Webb unveiled March 4 for CentrePointe, a downtown hotel, condo and retail complex. The common complaints: it’s too tall, too massive, wouldn’t promote street-level activity and would wipe out the downtown block’s historic fabric. Gray’s solution, which he floated over the weekend, was an international design competition to come up with better ideas.
He enlisted the help of Michael Speaks, the new dean of the University of Kentucky’s College of Design. “I think it’s in his best interest to see this as an opportunity and not an obstacle,” Speaks said of Webb after the Preserve Lexington event Saturday. “What’s at stake here is an issue in cities everywhere.”
But Webb and his partners did see it as an obstacle. As soon as Gray sent Webb a letter Monday asking for three months’ time to organize what he called the Crossroads Competition, Webb said no.
The next step comes Wednesday, when Webb’s team makes its case before the Courthouse Design Review Board, which must approve any changes to or demolition of several buildings on the block. The Urban County Council and state officials also must approve the $250 million project, because Webb is seeking $70 million in tax breaks.
Do you like Webb’s CentrePointe design the way it is? Or should officials insist on changes in return for the tax breaks?