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State Moving Forward With Capital Plaza Demolition

Wikimedia Commons, via WFPL

State officials are moving forward with a plan to demolish the Capital Plaza, including the tallest building in Frankfort, to make way for a new complex where about 1,500 state employees will work.

Bill Landrum, the secretary of the state’s finance cabinet, said during a committee hearing Tuesday that the Capital Plaza is falling apart.

“I’ve inspected many barracks and I will tell you that we need to get Frankfort and we need to get the state up to standard on our infrastructure, said Landrum, a former colonel in the U.S. Army. “It’s crumbling around us. We cut ribbons well, but we don’t take care of our buildings very well.”

Landrum said that the state needs about $194 million to fix or maintain its buildings and infrastructure in Franklin County alone.

Among the buildings to be demolished in downtown Frankfort’s Capital Plaza are the 28-story Capital Plaza Tower, Frankfort Convention Center and Fountain Place shops.

Landrum singled out the convention center as being unsafe by today’s building standards and said the entire complex is deteriorating.

“It has no sprinkler system, the electrical and the HVAC is beyond its useful life,” he said. “It places, technically, all who enter the building at risk.”

Demolition of the convention center will begin in December of this year and new construction is scheduled to be complete in March of 2020.

The demolition will make room for a new complex where state employees will work, and will include green space for the city of Frankfort to develop.

Frankfort Mayor Bill May said he’s seeking public input on what to do with the space.

“With this opportunity to start with a clean slate, we can remove some outdated structures that are in need of being replaced but also come back with something that the community will be supportive of,” May said.

The Capital Plaza has housed state agencies and private businesses since it was built in 1972.

The state has requested developers to submit bids on the demolition and construction project.

The project would be a public-private partnership and the winning bidder would lease the property back to the state for a period ending in 2047.

At 338 feet, the tower is the tallest building in Frankfort. The state capitol is the second tallest at 210 feet.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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