LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously to purchase the Lexington Herald-Leader building for $7.5 million, according to the school district.
“We are excited to acquire and repurpose this tremendous location,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “The Herald-Leader has played a central role in our community for decades and we are grateful for their partnership in this endeavor.”
The district’s plan is to bring its existing career and technical education (CTE) programs – currently split between two campuses at Eastside Technical Center and Southside Technical Center – together under one roof in the newspaper building.
“We are looking not just to have the best CTE offerings in the central Kentucky region or the state; we want to make sure that the students who come through our career programs are the best prepared students in the nation,” Caulk said. “This also allows us to take the existing properties, which are landlocked and use those facilities in a different way.”
Wholesale renovation of the Eastside and Southside buildings have been priorities on the District Facilities Plan with a total price tag of $23 million for more than eight years, according to Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson. He says as the district was scouting possible locations for other innovative offerings, officials began discussing the synergy that could come from merging all of the CTE offerings.
“The District’s Strategic Plan calls for Excellent Student Opportunities where students are able to explore a spectrum of industries and sectors to discover and develop their talents, interests and passions,” Caulk said. “Combining these two programs gives us the opportunity to create a 22nd Century future-forward career and technical education campus and expand offerings.”
The Herald-Leader building is 162,476-square-feet, located on a 6.73-acre campus at 100 Midland Avenue.
“While we can’t grow in our existing spaces, this will provide a large space that is flexible enough to continually upgrade and prepare our students for rapidly advancing industry standards,” Caulk said.
The property purchase will not be final until the district completes several due diligence steps and receives final approval from the Kentucky Department of Education. The Local Planning Committee is in the process of amending the district facility plan to include a merged career and technical center, according to the school district.
“It has always been our hope and goal that, once our building was sold, its new use would have a positive impact on the community and downtown Lexington,” said Lexington Herald-Leader Executive Editor/General Manager Peter Baniak. “This new use as a school campus achieves that goal.”
The Herald-Leader’s main operations will continue to be based at 100 Midland until the property sale closes, which is likely to happen this fall. The Herald Leader, United Way of the Bluegrass and Seikowave, Inc. will remain in the building for up to 6 months after closing at $11.67 per square foot per year, according to the district.
There is no timeline for construction, according to FCPS.
“Acquiring this location is a huge step in that direction,” Thompson said. “Land and properties that meet our unique educational and operational needs are very scarce. We have been very fortunate in recent years to obtain some great properties and I’m glad we are putting this in our real estate portfolio to enhance our CTE programs.”
The school district says the programs at Southside include carpentry construction, electrical technology, electronics technology, advanced manufacturing, welding, culinary arts, pre-nursing and medical sciences. The programs at Eastside include automotive and transportation technology, media arts: video/studio production/cinematography, digital design & game development, fire & emergency services, law enforcement, and homeland security.