LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — For about a decade, new restaurants and businesses moved downtown, renovating old buildings and enhancing Lexington's beauty.
In the middle of all the progress, the CentrePointe pit sat empty for years.
But with the renaming of the site and construction of City Center, that former eyesore is now a bragging point and looking forward to inviting people back inside once restrictions are lifted.
City Center is home to retail, restaurants, offices, parking garages, and two hotels.
Less than four months ago marked the end of a decade-long struggle as the Marriott and Residence Inn hotels opened.
"It was very accomplishing to open this place up when we did, and very very devastating to have what happened happen to us," said GM of both properties, Barry Kuhnke.
The site was an empty downtown pit for years. But now, the pristine City Center complex sits mostly empty of people as COVID-19 spreads.
The excitement of January has given way to tough decisions. "You know, it's been the hardest thing as always pulling back with your own team," said Lee Greer, president of Greer Companies.
"I've been through 9/11, the recession, and this is much worse than that," said Kuhnke, when referring to the impact on hotel business.
Despite the darkness, both Kuhnke and Greer are optimistic for the site's future as part of the fabric, and rebound, of Lexington.
"We are still open, providing room service to all of our hotels from a food and beverage perspective," said Kuhnke.
"I think you really find out your strengths of your organization, and some of your weaknesses, to address in times like this, in times of adversity," said Greer.
They point to the unique aspects of the property which include a rooftop pool, drinks with a view of Lexington's skyline, and a hotel they say was recently named number one among North American Marriotts for cleanliness and sanitation.
"With what's going on right now, it's just a testament to how important it truly is, and how much we value the safety and security of our guests and teammates," said Kuhnke.
"Honestly, I know it's going to be just fine. I feel great about it. I'm excited to get this thing up and running. We just need to be careful and do it when the time's right," said Greer.