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Downtown Lexington Hotel Project Questioned

The City Wire

Financing plans for a hotel project in downtown Lexington generated intense debate Tuesday afternoon (May 13) at city hall.

It centered on the city's involvement in the Hotel 21c project. The hotel properties are known for unique museum like qualities.  Council member Chris Ford questioned why the 40 million dollar project would be classified as a "public project?"

Mayor Jim Gray defended his support of the endeavor citing potential job creation and building preservation. 

"I am not gonna apologize for being an advocate for creating jobs and for preserving a building that otherwise would be falling down around us," said Gray.

Chief of Staff Jamie Emmons told Council it's a public-private partnership which involves loans, not direct appropriations.  He and Gray say the project won't happen without city support. 

Council member Chris Ford questioned the use of federal monies to back loans.  

"Mayor, I appreciate you being unapologetic, but like sign, I'll be just as unapologetic for the defense of scarce community development block grant funds that this project brings into play," said Ford.

Council is prepared to hear more from the developer of the Hotel 21c project in the coming weeks.  Emmons says the proposed schedule calls for renovation of the First National Bank building on Main to begin in a month or so.​