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The search for a new city hall in Lexington continues

Lexington Government Center at 200 East Main Street
Stu Johnson
Lexington Government Center at 200 East Main Street

The Lexington City Council has voted unanimously to reject a bid to build a new city hall. This action is one more chapter in a decades-long discussion about a new home for Urban County Government.

Serious consideration of moving out of the one-time Lafayette Hotel dates back to at least three former mayors. Current Mayor Linda Gorton said the Council agreed the proposal would not be in the best interest of the government and taxpayers.

“We’re optimistic. We’re all kind of disappointed that the RFP didn’t work, but we’re gonna be hopeful that we can get….I am determined,” said Gorton.

Gorton said she and her team will look at other possibilities and come back to Council. Gorton says some $42 million has been set aside through two sources to go to this project.

The formal action to reject the bid for a new city hall came after a lengthy closed-door discussion by the mayor and Council. The proposal involved a public-private partnership arrangement.

Vice Mayor Dan Wu said it not back to square one since a space study’s been conducted to determine how much space is required. Plus a downtown market study tells Council what the real estate options are. Wu said those two pieces can still be considered.

“Right now my preference is whatever we can get done and seeing that reality of it. Because we have every option from a brand new building, built from scratch all the way to renovating this building and our buildings fully and everything in between,” said Wu.

Gorton said she and her team will bring back another option for Council. The mayor noted that could come following summer break. Council Member James Brown said there remains interest in pursuing a new city hall.

In a statement out of the mayor’s office, the mayor said “We will look at other options. There are many demands on city revenue. When we make a decision that involves significant resources, we must weigh it against other needs and consider how best to serve the public. In this case, the numbers did not add up.”

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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