Victorian Square returns to ownership of The Webb Companies. Well, It’s More Restaurants for Lexington.
The Webb Companies, which turned a block of old downtown buildings into Victorian Square in the 1980s, has bought back the property from Alex Campbell and Bill Young Jr. for $1.7 million.
Dudley Webb, chairman of The Webb Companies, said the block of restored 19th-century buildings across from Rupp Arena and Lexington Center would be “reinvented” to become a downtown destination.
The Webb Companies, which teamed with Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. of Cincinnati to reacquire the property, closed on the sale Monday morning.
Mark Fallon, vice president of real estate leasing for Anderson, said plans for Victorian Square include adding “great high-volume restaurants that bring people for lunch and dinner.”
Neither Webb nor Fallon would name any establishments that could go into Victorian Square, but Webb implied it could be similar to other projects Anderson has tackled. Those include The Banks, a mixed-used project on the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati between the football and baseball stadiums, and Crestview Hills Town Center in Northern Kentucky.
Tenants in The Banks includes Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Crave restaurant, Johnny Rockets, Mahogany’s and Holy Grail. Four other bars and restaurants are listed on The Banks’ Web site as coming soon, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Fallon told a Herald-Leader reporter that he was at the Cincinnati airport Monday, waiting to board a plane to Chicago to negotiate with several “high-visibility operators who are ready for Lexington.”
Fallon said he likes an eclectic mix: bars and restaurants from locally owned establishments and “great high-volume restaurants that bring people to lunch and dinner. I’m not a big huge fan of evening-only entertainment places.”
Fallon is familiar with Lexington because Anderson has worked with Langley Properties, owner of Lexington Green, to redo the mall with an emphasis on becoming a fashion destination. That project is going great, he said.
While working on the mall, Fallon said, he became familiar with downtown and thought it was lacking.
"Downtown has fantastic downtown hotels, Rupp Arena is in walking distance from the University of Kentucky, most of the business infrastructure is based in downtown, but what it needs is a traffic generator like The Banks to bring more people downtown," he said.
Victorian Square, at West Main Street and North Broadway, went up for sale quietly near the end of 2011. It went on the Multiple Listing Service in mid-January with an asking price of $7.25 million. The property was assessed at $1.4 million in 2012, according to property valuation administration records.
Webb said $1.7 million sounded like a good deal, but it could cost as much as $10 million to rejuvenate Victorian Square.
The 16 buildings that make up Victorian Square were brought together under one roof by The Webb Companies in 1985, with restaurants, retail and office space. Lexington Children’s Theatre is in the block of buildings but is not part of Victorian Square.
The owners worked to make Victorian Square into a downtown mall filled with specialty shops. However, the retail operations struggled, and one by one many of those boutiques closed.
Full Herald Leader story HERE.