State legislators moving forward with plans to demolish 'unsafe' Frankfort Convention Center
The Capitol Plaza Tower has literally towered over Frankfort for since 1972, but its demolition could pave the way for a new-and-improved downtown.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Capitol Plaza Tower has literally towered over Frankfort for since 1972, but its demolition could pave the way for a new-and-improved downtown.
Right now, about all that's left of the Fountain Place shopping center is the fountain. More than half the storefronts are now empty.
Earnie Baker has been cutting hair here for 40 years, but he'll be gone by November.
"We'll, there's not going to be nothing left here," he said Wednesday.
Demolition begins on Fountain Place next year, part of the state's plan to tear down the shopping center and the now-empty office tower nearby.
"I've walked the Capitol Plaza as many of us have, and it's sad," said Kentucky Finance Secretary Bill Landrum. "From a state perspective, I was embarrassed."
Landrum told lawmakers Wednesday that the state property is literally crumbling. He plans to hire a developer to build a new five-story office complex for 1,500 state workers.
"We need to give Frankfort a new start," he said.
But the most controversial part of the plan is tearing down the state-owned Frankfort Convention Center. Landrum said it would cost more than $30 million to renovate the center and bring it up to code.
"The Frankfort Convention Center is unsafe by today's building code," he said. "It has no sprinkler system. The electrical and the HVAC is beyond its useful life."
Landrum said when the convention center is gone, the space will be turned over to the city for development.
"This is a win for the city. It's a win for the county," he said.
In fact, Frankfort Mayor William May is on board, saying he'll seek public input as to what to do with the space.
Meanwhile, Baker hopes to find a new location soon.
"Where it's convenient to both sides of town," he said.
The state plans to hire contractor in December. The new office complex should be finished sometime in 2020.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.