The UnTower Manifesto:

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Rob Morris lays the groundwork for life after CentrePointe
by David Schankula

Over the past week, Rob Morris has gone, as the kids say, medieval on the Webb Corporation, the CentrePointe hole in the ground, and Mayor Jim Newberry.

Morris is president of Lowell’s Automotive, one of Lexington’s finest independent businesses, and in a series of posts starting one week ago he has addressed every truth and destroyed every lie about this ridiculous project.

You can read him on page 4 and page 5 of this week’s Ace.

And after that, he laid out clear ideas on how to rectify what has happened and how to move forward as a community from here.

In many ways, he has rendered my pledge to run through the myths and truths of the project entirely obsolete.

If Jim Newberry could be compelled to read every single one of Rob’s words, even he would have to admit the failure of this project and the rational path forward for Lexington.

I’ll just excerpt each of these posts, but really, go read them because an excerpt ain’t gonna do it justice.

WHY CENTREPOINTE WILL FAIL

There are 91 luxury condos at the top of CP, which would sell for $1.2 million each and which would generate over $100 million for the project. The analysts estimated that 45 of those would sell before construction starts. And all 91 condos would be sold in 3 years. In all of Lexington, there were 31 million-dollar properties on the market at the end of 2008, and only 10 such properties sold during the entire year. So… CP’s developers would flood the market with luxury properties — essentially quadrupling the number that are on the market — and expect to sell them faster than historical rates. Odds that Lexington could absorb a 300% increase in ultra-luxury properties in only 3 years: Zero.

THE UnTOWER MANIFESTO: 1. Truth

The details of how UnTower happened have slooowly trickled out from the developers. Their secrecy, lack of candor, intimidation, outright deception, and possible fraud have sharpened questions about how decisions have been made throughout the project’s approval process. UnTower has exposed how opaque and how ill-informed our mayor’s and our Urban County Council’s decision-making processes have been. And, if you look closely enough, the scandal shows us how Lexington should improve.

THE UnTOWER MANIFESTO: 2. Consequences

The consequences for UnTower should rest on the people who perpetrated the scandal: The mayor, some council members, and the developers. Let’s start with the mayor.

In other venues, I’ve seen the mayor talk with his skeptics with apparent openness and graciousness. He was quite articulate. He listened to their concerns and seemed to hear them.

But the last several months have shown a repeated abdication of his duties in the face of scandal.

THE UnTOWER MANIFESTO: 3. Beyond UnTower

The final piece of the UnTower puzzle is what to do with the pit now that the historic buildings are gone and the promised tower cannot be built.

Up front, let me declare that I don’t have all of the answers regarding what needs to be done with the block.

But I do have some general principles which we might start to apply to the site.

  • Create a vibrant destination which attracts in-town residents, weekday workers, other folks from throughout the Bluegrass, and tourists.
  • Also, you can read Rob’s first column of this flurry in the current ACE Weekly ["Optimism is Not a Business Plan"]



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