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[Frankfort] Random development news from the capital city

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KSU buildings need repairs

By SARA GIVIDEN, State Journal [Frankfort], April 5, 2007

The Council on Postsecondary Education reviewed the Statewide Facilities Condition Assessment Report on April 4, 2007 and assessed Kentucky State University's building, looking at the exterior components, roof, heating, windows, and interior finish. Six buildings at KSU received below satisfactory rankings. The Atwood Agriculture Research Building, Bradford Hall, Jackson Hall, and White Health Center need major renovations or new assigned uses, and the Jordan Maintenance Building and Jordan Shop/Warehouse should be demolished, according to the report. Many buildings are over 30 years old and need upgrading.

Jackson Hall is the oldest, at 119 years old. It needs access to the second floor with an elevator, as well as providing display space for African art from the Center of Excellence, as well as other significant improvements. Shauntee Hall is currently being remodeled for the Art Department, and the renovation should provide adequate space post-renovation. Bradford Hall had inadequate band room height, ensemble, and choral room spaces. The business school is housed in the same building with the music program, and does not promote the image of a typical business program because of its lack of technology and space. According to the report, Bradford Hall should be significantly renovated or demolished because of settlement cracks, and that the business program and music/theater program be relocated. The Atwood Agricultural Research facility should be expanded, with more classroom space, and major renovations to the heating and cooling systems. The Jordan Shop/Warehouse should be demolished because the buildings are substandard and cannot be fully utilized.

The recommendations are being incorporated into the University's Master Facility Plan.

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Curtains part at the Grand Theatre

By Rorye O'Connor, State-Journal [Frankfort], May 18, 2007

More information, call Bill Cull at 226-4157

The Grand Theatre, at 308 St. Clair Street (pedestrian area), is being restored. The Save the Grand Theatre Inc., a non-profit organization, began work in 2005 to restore the structure. It removed 30 truckloads of concrete and dirt (dirt???) from the building. It was constructed in 1910 as a vaudeville theater. The restoration has stripped the walls down to the original painted plaster of the 1910 theater, and the sloped floor and ornate decorations of the 1941 movie theater (which lasted until the 1960s). It later became a discount store and then a lawyer's office.

In the 1940s, the upper floor was reserved for the African-Americans, and had "colored" restrooms and water fountains.

The Grand Theatre, once restored, will become a performing arts center. It is being funded by open houses and yard sales, and through a 2% hotel room tax that was approved on December 1, 2006 -- that is in place until $3 million is raised needed for the restoration work. 125 are currently volunteering with the profess. Before the project began in 2005, the organization used the building to show movies and have concert series. A 35-mm movie projector was donated by Regal Theaters, along with speakers, a projector screen, and 500-seats for the finished facility.

Restoration is slated for completion in fall 2008, or early 2009.

n12904118_34011926_4911.jpg

Photograph taken on June 14, 2007.

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St. Clair restoration slated

By VINCE TWEDDELL, State-Journal [Frankfort], June 3, 2007

Article has images. In the post above, the arson-burned buildings are on the right out of the camera's view. This is very good news, considering that the block is continuous, is seeing improvements, and is drawing in a healthy crowd.

An arson fire gutted several buildings several months ago at 333 St. Clair, including the Downtown Bar and the Serafini restaurant. Restoration of the buildings could begin by August and be complete by early 2008. One owner (owns two buildings) has been obtaining permits, submitting applications, etc. in the process, and plans on "redoing the facade to its original style" when it was constructed in 1871. Debris removal should begin in July, along with facade stabilization.

333 St. Clair (Serafini Restaurant): The plan calls for the current kickplates (trim on the lower wall surfaces) to be replaced with wooden kickplates that were more commonplace back in the late 1800s, installing 11-ft. doorways, and removing the transom from above the storefront.

(Downtown Bar): Will be restored to its original style.

One of the positives that has come out of the fire is that some of the horrid renovations from the 1950s can be "erased." It makes it easier to restore the buildings closer to their original design.

(Tink's Bar-B-Q): The restoration of the building is "up in the air." The owner of the two properties has been in discussions to buy out Tink's to restore the building.

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Plan envisions new life for the old YMCA

BY CHARLIE PEARL, State-Journal [Frankfort], May 30, 2007

Personal note: Funny story about this. I was trying to find the building late one night and took a wrong turn down an industrial park road. Frankfort police pulls me over and wonders why I am driving out in an industrial area at 1:30 AM. I told him I wanted to do night photography of the YMCA building (which was the truth), so he shows me exactly where it was at! A great building adjacent to the Singing Bridge that definitely would be great restored.

The former YMCA Building could cost $186,000 to demolish, but it could be converted into an upscale restaurant on the first floor, and condominiums on the second and third floors. The study to convert the building was funded through a $3,000 grant provided by the National Trust and Preservation Kentucky -- concluding that the building is structurally sound. Most building restorations, the study found, were in much worse shape.

Roof repair was done through a $5,000 grant from the Kentucky Trust for Historic Preservation. The three story structure features ornate archways, and baseboard throughout. The restaurant concept would have a large banquet room, several private meeting rooms, a bar, and a terrace for outdoor dining overlooking the Kentucky River. Eight two-bedroom condos would be on the second and third floors.

The debate on the building began in the winter of 2006, when the city notified the property owner Robert J. Ehrler (Old Y Development LLC of Louisville) of property maintenance code violations. He bought it for $47,000 in 1989, which had not been used since the record 1978 flood. He has intentions to restore the building but does not have the funding.

The Kentucky Heritage Commission (now the Heritage Council) and (retired) Franklin Circuit Judge Ray Corns had offices in the building, but were forced to move out during the flood.

n12904118_34012477_6241.jpg

Photograph taken on June 14, 2007.

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I have only been to Frankfort once, but it impressed me the most of any mid-size Kentucky city I have been too. I rank it right up there with my very biased favorite of Paducah. The city just has some great urban traits to it that are absent in many places much larger. Its downtown was very interesting to walk around; and when I was there plenty of street activity was going on for a late afternoon on a weekday. The capitol buildings also add a great quality to the city, not to mention nice setting the the hills provide.

Great to see some great developments going on in the city as well. It was also nice to read that the Frankfort police are professional enough to be nice to photographers who they stumble upon late at night, I know in some other locals the police would probably not be nearly as friendly, and more suspective, of a stray photographer out at 1:30am in an industrial area of town. Good to know they not only noticed strange activity and checked up on it, but when explained were helpful.

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The downtown seems to be coming back to life. There are many unique shops and antique stores that I have frequented a lot more lately, and a great cafe. There needs to be more residential development in the downtown, however, as it seems to be nothing but government offices galore.

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