Harold Tate’s goodbye/legacy tour continues with “The Lane Report” — Ed Lane’s flagship publication, which always gives the local business community an unflinching and critical look. It’s not like it’s just reprinted press releases… this stuff’s “news.”
So here goes: Ed Lane v. Harold Tate… who will win? Let’s check the highlights…
Ed Lane: How long have you lived in Lexington?
Harold Tate: I attended the University of Kentucky College of Architecture and graduated in 1974…. I took [a job at the Parks Department] my last year at UK while I was doing my thesis on historic preservation.
First round goes to Lane. (And unfortunately, UK’s thesis archive appears to be down at the moment but maybe we can dig into that later.)
EL: What was your first promotion?
HT: ….When I left the urban county government in 2001, I had just completed doing the two new courthouses, the jail on Old Frankfort Pike, and the downtown arts center.
You had us at the construction of the beautiful new Courthouses, Harold. Round goes to Tate!
EL: When did you start working at the Lexington Downtown Development Authority (LDDA)?
HT: ….The board hired me in May 2001.
Sometimes when you get two heavyweights in the ring, they battle to the draw. Lane’s a shrewd journalist, but Tate holds his own here.
EL: What was the status of downtown Lexington when LDDA commenced operations in 2001?
HT: The last big project – The Woodlands condos – was completed in 1987. The Woodlands development was ahead of market demand; condominiums were not a concept that took off in Lexington. The slow absorption of these units was a drag on downtown development. That’s totally changed now.
And then Tate comes out of his corner right into a buzzsaw! Lane creams him here, as Harold insults another of the Webb Companies failed development projects, lamenting how it destroyed development progress for years. It’s also worth noting that since the Webbs couldn’t fill The Woodlands with outside customers, they instead filled it with friends and family… including Woodford and his old neighbor Jim Newberry. Anyway, Lane takes the round easily.
The next three are mildly interesting but each were fought to a draw, so let’s skip ahead to the lightning round!
EL: You’ve worked for several mayors. Rank them 1-10 with 10 the highest rating.
EL: Foster Pettit
HT: I’d have to give Foster a 9, because he was the first mayor of merged government. He really had many major issues with which to deal.
EL: Jim Amato
HT: I’d have to give him a 9 as well because he really appreciated the hard work of the city’s employees.
EL: Scott Baesler
HT: Let’s give Scotty a 10. He was in charge, he knew what he wanted to do and he did it.
EL: Pam Miller
HT: I’d give her a 9, because of her focus on downtown redevelopment.
EL: Teresa Isaac
HT: Let’s give her a 5.
EL: Jim Newberry
HT: Let’s give him a 9, because of his focus on revitalizing downtown and moving the Limestone corridor project forward.
EL: Jim Gray
HT: Not rated yet, it’s way too early since he has been in office less than 90 days.
Round goes to Tate. Lane steered him into a minefield and he responded by giving everyone 9s and 10s except for TI who seems, somehow, to have deeply offended every aging white collared white male in downtown Lexington… it’s a powerful but small membered group and it’s Lane’s entire audience… so Lane goes down.
But seriously… Newberry was at least a 10. In fact, on that scale, he’s probably an 11.
Up next, Lane hits Tate with a CentrePointe question!
EL: What was the impact of the Webb Companies’ CenterPointe development (on the Main-Upper-Vine-Limestone block) on downtown Lexington?
HT: It was interesting to me that investors decided Lexington needed more entertainment venues in addition to Buster’s and The Dame – the businesses located in the buildings to be demolished (for CenterPointe). That’s when you really started seeing a lot of new places open in downtown. You had The Chase in Victorian Square, Sky Bar in Courthouse Square, Bakers 360 in the Chase Tower; so you started seeing more options. Larry Redmond had his place in the Court Square Building, then he opened up Bluegrass Tavern right beside it.
This is far and away Tate’s longest response throughout the entire steel-caged deathmatch… and for that reason alone, he goes down like an historic building filled with live music and good times.
In all his rambling, he takes credit for the New Busters and, as you see above, can’t fathom the market demands created when Lexington’s nocturnal population is displaced. Apparently multiple business people and developers see opportunities and all try to be the one (or maybe ones) to grab the customers. But hey, dude studied “historic preservation” not economics so let’s only judge him on his ability to preserve historic buildings.
And with Tate on the ropes, Lane strikes again!
EL: The Webb Company’s CentrePointe project has a $200 million price tag and that’s a significant capital investment. For comparison, the Louisville Arena cost about $235 million. The recent decline of U.S. financial markets has made financing difficult. What’s happening around the country and how hard is it to get loans for this kind of project?
Harold actually had an answer. It wasn’t a good one, but it didn’t much matter. After a question that stupid, there’s no way Ed Lane’s walking out of that one unscathed.
EL: A lot of people think that a TIF is an incentive where the city and the state give money to the developer to do a project. Could you explain how a TIF works?
Again! It’s almost like Ed Lane has forgotten he’s doing journalistic battle with Harold Tate and is instead phantom-boxing an imaginary opponent from three years ago. Maybe he’s seeing The Ghost of the Mystery Investor!
After another couple rounds of equal footing, the two fighters return to form.
EL: Why did you recently decide to end your employment with the LDDA?
HT: I’m stepping down…. I’d like to work in the private sector; 38 years in the public eye is a long time.
Round to Lane… ’cause Tate’s going to Newberry. Next!
EL: What was the LDDA’s best success?
HT: I’d have to say the Limestone Corridor.
Lane, again. And the final round…
L: When you see all the changes that have occurred downtown over the last 10 years, what kind of feeling do you get?
HT: A great feeling. I can’t stop smiling when I see the sidewalks full of people….
Which explains why you never see Harold Tate smile. Zing!
But we jest. We really do. Sure, Ed Lane’s superior journalistic skills destroyed Harold Tate in this no-holds-barred exit interview… but Harold Tate’s a good guy who’s given years of hard work to build downtown Lexington into exactly what it is today, and for that, we must all give a hearty and sincere thank you.