Webbs, Dallas-based company picked to redevelop High Street parking lot. See the plan.

·5 min read

The group that oversees Central Bank Center has picked local developer The Webb Companies and Dallas-based Lincoln Property Company to redevelop a 17-acre parking lot across from the newly renovated Central Bank Center on West High Street.

Lexington Center Corporation, which oversees Central Bank Center, announced Thursday that it would continue negotiations with Lincoln Webb LLC, a Webb and Lincoln company, to redevelop the High Street lot.

The Lincoln-Webb proposal includes a mix of residential, retail and multiple parking garages. As part of the request for proposals, the group must build parking garages to replace the surface parking on the High Street parking lot.

“The LCC TIF Committee has worked diligently for almost a year vetting proposals received for its Request for Proposal issued in September 2021. The committee carefully considered all proposals with assistance from Commonwealth Economics on financial matters and MKSK Studios for urban planning advisory services,” said Bob Elliston, the chairman of the Lexington Center Corp. board.

The Webb Companies have also developed City Center in downtown Lexington in addition to other developments throughout the city.

Lincoln Property Company has developed over 150 million square feet of commercial real estate and manages 400 million square feet of office space, according to a written release.

A parking lot at Rupp Arena. Sunday, April 10, 2022
A parking lot at Rupp Arena. Sunday, April 10, 2022

Dudley Webb, of The Webb Companies, said the group is still working with Lexington Center Corp. to develop final plans. The current proposal includes 3,600 parking spaces in five different garages. That’s 1,600 spaces more than the current 2,000 space surface parking lot.

“This is merely a proposal at this time,” Webb said. But the plans call for some entertainment venues, more residential options and possibly a hotel.

“This is one of the largest contiguous properties in downtown Lexington. It’s critical that we get this right and we continue to listen to what people want,” Webb said.

Webb said the group talked with neighbors of the High Street lot prior to submitting their proposal. Webb stressed the group is still in negotiations with Lexington Center Corporation and no deal has been finalized. Webb predicted a final design will likely take nine months.

“We are excited about this and think Lexington Center really likes our concepts,” Webb said.

Developers can re-coup costs for infrastructure—including parking garages—from new tax revenues generated from the project. The 17-acre parcel is part of a tax increment financing district or TIF project. The Lexington Center TIF project qualified for $41 million in state tax rebates over 30 years.

To start receiving state taxes, developers have to spend more than $200 million. The only qualifying infrastructure costs to recoup those taxes are parking garages, according to the deal approved by state economic development officials in 2019.

The Webb Companies have two other TIF projects in Lexington -- City Center and the Fountains at Palomar, a retail development on Harrodsburg Road. The city has stopped authorizing TIF districts.

Woodward Heights neighborhood, which is adjacent to the High Street lot, has raised concerns about development on the 17-acre site due to the increase in traffic fatalities along the stretch of High Street between Central Bank Center and the Oliver Lewis Way bridge.

The city will soon add speed tables to that area. It is also applying for a federal transportation grant to improve pedestrian access and safety in the area that will soon become the entrance to the Town Branch Park, a proposed nearly 10-acre park adjacent to Central Bank Center.

Helene Steene, president of the Woodward Heights Neighborhood Association, said the neighborhood likes the Lincoln Webb proposal.

“We think it is a brilliant idea to return that whole area to a neighborhood again, even if a more modern one, with some mix in with retail and possible small entertainment facility,” Steene said. The plans include adding streets between High and Maxwell streets, which will help alleviate traffic on High Street, she said.

Previously, Lexington Sporting Club released renderings in January of a proposed 6,000-seat soccer stadium, 160-room hotel and a 250-unit apartment complex on the High Street parking lot of Central Bank Center.

It was one of four proposals Lexington Center Corp. received for the redevelopment of the High Street parking lot. Officials with the team said Thursday they ultimately decided to pull its proposal for the High Street lot.

The professional soccer group was the only one of the four original proposals to release its renderings to the public. The Lexington Herald-Leader requested the other proposals through an Open Records Act request. That request was denied because it was a competitive bid process, which is allowed under state law.

Lexington Sporting Club owner Bill Shively has said he has contracts for land near Interstate 75 that would serve as a backup option for a stadium if building the downtown stadium doesn’t occur.

LSC President Vince Gabbert said Thursday the club is looking at multiple sites.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is currently debating how it will spend $26 million in funds currently in a city savings account. One of the proposals includes spending up to $4 million for infrastructure improvements for a sports complex that will include youth fields.

Council members did not say during deliberations whether that $4 million was for a new Lexington Professional Soccer stadium and youth sports complex. The council may start to take votes on various proposals to spend some of that $26 million at a meeting May 31. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has also ready proposed spending $12 million of the $26 million in her proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Gabbert said Thursday the group has not approached the city directly about funding a stadium and other fields.

“It would be great if the city would work with us and partner with us. We’ve not made any necessarily specific asks just because we’ve planned all along with this (being) privately financed and a privately funded project,” Gabbert said. “It would be great if the city wanted to be a part of it and help out in any way that was possible. We feel like it’s going to be a great benefit to the city and the community. Of course, we would welcome that partnership, but it’s also not anticipated.”