Lexington vs Masons: Make That TWO Million and P-Nuts

Lake and Main previously reported that the hotel development company Lexington Hospitality paid $1 million for the property at 116 East Main Stree in downtown Lexington.   In fact, the company also bought an adjacent, .24 acre strip of land for an additional $1 million, putting the total investment for a proposed Mariott-branded hotel at $2 million.

The Town of Lexington is trying to acquire property across Butler Street for exclusive parking for hotel patrons (see here and here). That land, with a two-story building, currently belongs to Lexington Masonic Lodge #152.  Negotiations for the Town’s acquisition of the property have been on-going for at least five months and there appears to be no imminent resolution, at least not to the satisfaction of Lexington Hospitality and whomever in Town government is championing it’s exclusive parking facility.

Lake and Main has spoken with a member of Lexington Masonic Lodge #152 about this story and, at his request, kept his name private.  The Mason, Mr. Dick Keyzer, has now allowed Lake and Main to identify him in part because he’s “sick to death” about what the Town is trying to do. Mr. Keyzer is the Lodge Secretary, a post he has held for over 20 years.  He has also been a Lodge representative in talks with the Town and is, therefore, intimately familiar with the negotiations.

photo_editor_1540233648501According to Keyzer, the Town’s has offered $48,300 for the 1/2 acre of Lodge land – NOT including the building – that runs on Butler Street from Church Street half-way to Lake Drive.  This land is across the street from the proposed hotel site.  The Town has stipulated that the land is to be used for hotel parking patrons only except for 20 spaces the Lodge would be allowed to use for their meetings on Monday nights from 5 PM to 10 PM.  All other times, Keyzer was told, vehicles not belonging to hotel patrons would be towed.  Mr Keyzer also pointed out that “we have never denied anyone from parking on our property.”

The Town’s offer, made around the 1st of October, came with a 60-day deadline.  No indication has been given to the Lodge should they not accept.  However, in the course if the talks, eminent domain has been mentioned, although it is not clear if the Town would evoke seizure of the property through “condemnation.”

“We’re in and out of that building all the time,” he said, “not just on meeting nights.”  Mr. Keyzer also noted that the Masonic Women’s auxiliary, Eastern Star, meets monthly on Tuesday nights, but occasionally use the lodge at other times and days.  Presumably, the Town would tow the cars of Eastern Star women should they park there on meeting nights.

The Town has also offered to pay $5,000 of the Lodge’s legal fees related to the acquisition.  Mr. Keyzer told Lake and Main that the Lodge, via it’s attorney, has sent “paperwotk” to the Town to acknowledge that offer in writing. 

Although initially Mr. Keyzer said the Lodge was inclined to “not (be) in the market to sell or lease their land to the Town,” he did acknowledge that Lexington Masonic Lodge #152 has set a “bottom line” sale price – $1.5 million for the land and the Lodge building.  This is the amount estimated to purchase land, construct a new facility and relocate.  But Mr. Keyzer added a stipulation.

Should the total cost for Lexington Masonic Lodge #152 to move to a new location cost LESS than the $1.5 milion for their Butler Street property, the Lodge will return the excess over $20 thousand to the Town.  That twenty thousand will be donated to charities such as Mission Lexington (formerly Lexington Interfaith Community Services), the Shriner’s Hospital and the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter.  Those donations would be made in the name of the Town of Lexington.

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