Two of the board’s design professionals, architect Graham Pohl and UK architectural professor Martin Summers, voted to block the new designs proposed for the long awaited and much maligned project in the center of downtown.
The design review board, which has say over construction design in a close proximity to Lexington’s historic courthouse, had a different makeup from the board’s August meeting in which designs for CentrePointe were narrowly approved pending alterations to an apartment building on the block.
That meeting saw one ‘no’ vote from the Mayor’s Chief Development Officer, Kevin Atkins, and an abstention from Pohl. This time around Pohl opted to vote because he said the previous incarnation led by Lexington’s EOP Architects supplanted a design he had previously done for the block. The design up for approval today was based on EOP’s drawings but led by Atlanta-based CMMI, which Pohl said made it OK for him to vote because it did not directly replace something he had worked on.
Atkins, the mayoral aide and LFUCG’s representative to the design review board, spoke for four minutes about his dislike for the design of the project before saying he would vote to approve the design.
“If you look at the guidelines themselves, while it’s not iconic, and it’s not aspirational, the guidelines don’t give us a lot of flexibility,” he said to Business Lexington after the meeting. “So strictly looking at the guidelines, I just felt like that was the vote.”
When asked if he was worried a ‘no’ vote from him could kill the project because signed leases for tenants of the block’s proposed office building were dependant upon approval, Atkins said he had not consulted with others on the board about how they might vote.
“The vote was factored on my feelings and not what the other members might do,” he said.
Atkins was joined in voting ‘yes’ by the board’s banking representative, Billie J. Dollins of Community Trust Bank, and eventually by the board’s interim chair Luther Andal who cast the tie breaking vote.