CentrePointe: An ugly welcome to Lexington in 2010? Marriott Dropping Out?

CentrePointe: An ugly welcome to Lexington in 2010? Marriott Dropping Out?

– David Schankula

Two weeks ago, we sent Mayor Newberry and the Webb Companies a short email outlining a few, very basic questions about CentrePointe. We were curious about why construction had not begun. We wondered about the dire outlook for the hotel development world. And, in this horrific financial market — we asked who was putting up $200 million for this strange structure and who was going to buy the 90 different one million dollar condos inside of it.

This past week, at Mayor Newebberry’s request, the Webb Companies responded to our inquiry with a lengthy internal email from their construction company. The email was fascinating, but it hardly addressed these questions.

Like any big business, the Webbs know the importance of good press. So they didn’t just send their response to us. They also sent it to Business Lexington which printed a paraphrased version the email. (If you’d like to see for yourself, read their article, then read the original email).

But they didn’t cc this new information to the Lexington Herald Leader. Surely some will claim that the Hairy Liberal wouldn’t give the Webbs a fair shake, but really, the Webbs just didn’t want to answer any questions.

And the Herald-Leader, like it or not and say what you will, asks questions.

So today comes the Herald-Leader’s version of the story. Reporting on the same email from the Webbs on behalf of Mayor Newberry, they somehow (I guess it was through actual reporting) eked information out of the topic that others had failed to uncover.


Whether the shell of the tower can be completed in time for the 2010 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games, as Webb stated in January, is in doubt. Webb does not want CentrePointe to be an active construction site during the Games. “We don’t want this thing to be unsightly,” he said. “We promised that before, and that is still our intent.”

But Webb added, “If we don’t get started soon, there’s not much we can do.”

And then there was this:

Plans for the 35-story CentrePointe include 91 condominiums at an average price of more than $1 million and a 250-room J.W. Marriott luxury hotel.
Webb wants both a Marriott franchise to use the Marriott name, and a management agreement with Marriott for them to run the hotel. The terms have been negotiated, but a contract has not been signed, he said.

The agreement is subject to Marriott’s final approval of CentrePointe plans, including the hotel, Webb said. “They’re not going to sign anything until they see the final plans.”

So, here we are.

One year ago, the Webbs and Jim Newebberry announced the CentrePointe project. Dudley Webb said there’d be a brand new skyscraper in downtown Lexington by the time everyone arrived for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. And we were told it would be a 4-star J.W. Marriott hotel.

A year later, there’s a hole in downtown Lexington, and a best case scenario will probably see the world arriving at our doorstep to find a construction site. The hotel franchise may be on the verge of backing out. And at the outset of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the whole project is built on the back of ninety-one $1,000,000.00+ condominiums — over half of which need to be sold for the project to move forward.

This is madness. This is Lexwebbington.