City to purchase Cundiff Square for $1 million

Carla Slavey

Except for a few offices fronting South Vine Street, the commercial buildings of Cundiff Square sit empty.

Somerset government will be buying the Cundiff Square for $1 million.

City Council approved the decision Monday night, giving Mayor Alan Keck the go ahead for purchasing the aging commercial development, located on South Vine Street.

The property includes the old town square monument, marking the historical area in which it is believed the first settlers to Somerset lived.

Keck said the monument will not be destroyed, but it will not be kept at it’s current location, either.

“We’re going to try to disassemble it instead of demolish it, to where if there’s pieces of it they’d like to keep, we’ll allow that. If there’s a way to memorialize the stones or something for them, I think that’s fair to do.”

The land also contains two commercial buildings on either side of the square. One sits completely empty while the other only houses businesses in a few of the potential office spaces.

Keck said both buildings were to be razed to make way for new projects.

Keck said the property sale likely won’t be finalized for 90 to 120 days, giving those businesses plenty of time to relocate.

“It’s important they have plenty of time to relocate in a fair manner,” Keck said. “… The big picture is that those will be razed, removed and then we’ll have a blank canvas of sorts for redevelopment.”

While the area itself is full of history, Keck likened the opportunity to revitalized the area as historic itself.

“It’s an historic opportunity. You go trying to find nine acres of Main Street somewhere else in Kentucky. It’s unheard of.”

The mayor stopped short of saying that the businesses being displaced would be first in line to return.

“I hate to say. I wouldn’t want to make that commitment. It’s a fair consideration, but I wouldn’t want to make a firm commitment on that,” he said.

Keck said the demolition costs could add another $250,000 to the city’s investment.

Financing the project will be done through low-interest loans.

“I have full confidence in our ability to take on this project, to redevelop it, [and] create a new town center were we can honor our past and look towards the future. And I’ll also say with conviction that this council and myself in 20 years will be damn proud we did it.”

A block of residential townhouses sits one the southern edge of the property. They will not be demolished.

While those are being bought by the city initially, Keck said the city would not keep them.

“Because of the investment the city’s making, I think it’d be purview that should we sell it, we ensure that some investment is made in exchange for it that meets the standard of the project moving forward. But we’re not in the leasing business long-term,” Keck said.

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