FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky tentatively accepted $1.625 million Thursday for property that forced planners of the Ohio River Bridges Project to build a tunnel under it.

The price for the sprawling Drumanard estate was the highest among five bidders who submitted offers to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, but it is $6.7 million less than the amount the state paid in 2012 – a move that allowed a preservation easement to be added. There was no minimum bid requirement.

The state bought Drumanard in 2012, paying $8.3 million for the 53 acres on Wolf Pen Branch Road near U.S. 42. That was $1.5 million above the appraised value and more than $5 million higher than the previous sales price.

In all, Kentucky has reached agreements in principle to sell three properties – two in eastern Jefferson County and one downtown -- that it bought for $13.5 million as part of a sweeping historic preservation plan for the bridges project.  

The bids now go to Gov. Matt Bevin’s Finance Secretary, William Landrum, for final review. None has been formally approved yet.

But if they are approved, the state stands to recoup just $2.425 million of its original investment.

The federal government agreed to tunnel under Drumanard’s grounds in order to comply with requirements that transportation projects avoid historic properties, if possible. It also pledged to add an easement limiting future development on the property.

Drumanard’s owners at the time, the Soterion Corp., were asked – but not required – to add the easement. When that didn’t happen, the state bought the property.

Steve Fox submitted the winning $1.625 million sealed bid at Thursday’s auction. The Transportation Cabinet accepted it, even though Fox had a letter of credit with him, but did not properly include it on time with the materials filed with his bid.

"That will be reviewed by the Secretary of Finance and they will make that determination," said Mark McCoy an official in the cabinet's right-of-way division.

The next-highest bid was $1.310 million 

Fox said he plans to live at Drumanard and is not concerned with the easement. “I want to restore it to its former glory,” he said.


Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.