Lexington leaders moved to hire a dedicated lease negotiator Tuesday, laying the groundwork for potential talks with local developer CRM about a new government center, but it remains unclear whether backers have the votes to clear the next hurdle.
The council added to the docket a resolution calling for a special negotiator to guide discussions with CRM, the company behind a proposal to move the government center from its established locale in the former Lafayette Hotel at 200 East Main Street to an augmented Herald-Leader building at the corner of Main and Midland.
That’s if – and only if – the council decides to launch official negotiations.
Driven by concerns about the process and the ultimate fate of the city's current downtown properties, 9th District Councilwoman Jennifer Mossotti proposed a resolution to hire a negotiator and secure assurances that plans surrounding the local government's existing buildings are in the works as soon as possible.
"My concern was what are we going to going to do with these buildings?" she explained. "Are we going to maintain them? Are we going to still heat them... cool them? We've got five buildings here that we are going to be left with if we go ahead and move forward."
The new language won relatively swift approval, but few are expecting such a speedy decision on the resolution initiating negotiations with CRM up for a vote on Thursday.
"I'm going to support Councilmamber Mossotti's resolution. Doesn't mean that I'm going to support the resolution for the new government center, but I feel like it's a safeguard," said Peggy Henson, who represents the city's 11th District.
The question prompted three hours of public comment on August 14th. Later that month, Mayor Jim Gray later broke a split 6-6 vote to put negotiations on the docket. To move forward with the talks, the city will need another two yes votes.
The council is set to take up the issue Thursday at their regular 6 p.m meeting.