Tower, convention center and plaza slated for demolition by September | The State Journal
Tower, convention center and plaza slated for demolition by September
Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017
State and local officials reacted Tuesday after being summoned to meet with Gov. Matt Bevin and cabinet personnel on Tuesday morning about plans to tear down and replace Frankfort’s largest building and surrounding structures.
By the end of September the Capital Plaza Tower, the Capital Plaza and the Frankfort Convention Center could be demolished, according to a request posted by the Finance and Administration Cabinet seeking a private partnership to redevelop the property and bring more state workers back downtown.
Franklin County legislators Sen. Julian Carroll and Rep. Derrick Graham met with Bevin early Tuesday to discuss the cabinet’s request-for-proposals plan, which will include taking out the parking garages, adding green space after the convention center is demolished and replacing the tower with a 385,500 gross-square-feet state office building to house 1,500 state employees.
According to Carroll, Bevin said centralizing state employees back in the downtown area from offices in the county would bring an estimated $2.7 million in occupational tax revenue back to Frankfort.
The cabinet will accept proposals until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 31, on the demolition of the tower, the convention center, the plaza-area garages, the cooling towers, HVAC and other systems supplied to the plaza offices and convention center.
“They are going to have all the individual occupants of the various plaza offices out by September, which should allow the project to proceed to demolition,” Carroll said. “The project is going to involve a five-story state office building with a parking space added to the building. We were taken aback that he (Bevin) indicated that the choice of whether to demolish the convention center would be required. We prefer that the convention center not be demolished. His guys there with him explained they would have to rebuild the heating and air conditioning at a cost of about $7.5 million and the center itself required renovations of about $15 million.”
Carroll said he didn’t think the General Assembly would appropriate the amount of money needed to maintain the convention center, but said he would not be satisfied “in the long term to not have a facility similar to our current convention center. We are hopeful some governor, some day will help us build such a structure with the General Assembly.”
The green space left as a result of the demolition will be available for future community planning in conjunction with state government.
“There is certainly the desire to again make retail space available around the plaza to help support the community, and that would all obviously would be planned in the future after the most immediate needs such as the demolition of the tower are done,” Carroll said.
The RFP calls for a private-public partnership to develop the property, which will be leased back by the state, and will include improvements to the demolished areas and the pedestrian bridge “traversing Wilkinson Boulevard to the Capital Plaza facade, the YMCA parking garage and to the elevated plaza areas,” overpassing Mero and Clinton streets.
The demolition will also reopen Washington Street between the YMCA and the J.C. Watts Federal Building. The street was closed off once the federal building was constructed.
The convention center, formerly known as the Farnham Dudgeon Convention Center, hosts several high school graduations from surrounding counties every year, the Mid-South Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, the All “A” Classic basketball championships and Kentucky State University’s graduation.
The financial impact of losing those convention center contracts and on local businesses from losing tourist tax dollars remains to be seen.
Frankfort Mayor Bill May also met with cabinet officials, including Secretary William Landrum, Tuesday to discuss the developments.
“First, let me say how much I appreciate Gov. Bevin and Secretary Landrum for wanting to bring more jobs to the downtown area. The additional jobs will be a shot in the arm to our local restaurants and businesses,” May said. “I would love to have a facility that would host sporting events, graduations, conventions and performing arts events. I do understand the costs with the heating and cooling separation from the plaza tower, the convention center and the costs to renovate the convention center to get it up to code. The costs to update an outdated facility versus building something new — I think the opportunity to get more jobs downtown and the green space and parking garage attached to the hotel for mixed use, meaning residential and retail space, would be an opportunity to increase our tax base and have more people living downtown.”
May said he would still like to pursue an avenue for having a performing arts center that could also host sporting events and large conventions and that he believes the state is open to working with the city and the county on determining how the green space would be used.
“I would want to find out from our community what our locals would want to see there as well,” May said.