LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 1, 2012) — Mayor Jim Gray and University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto today announced a long-time top UK administrator will be the new project manager for the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District, leading the project into its second phase with the focus on a detailed design for the district, and how to pay for it.
Frank Butler, formerly UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration, will begin as project manager in June. UK will donate Butler’s time and salary to the Rupp District effort through the end of 2012.
“Beginning with a foundation of support and cooperation among the state, the University and the city, we will seek creative approaches to financing for the Rupp plan to stand on its own,” Butler said. “This is a visionary plan with tremendous potential to attract investment in our community and our future.” Butler will report to Lexington Center Corp., which manages Rupp Arena, convention facilities and the Lexington Opera House.”
Developing the plan was the work of the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment Task Force — a 47-member committee including a broad cross-section of community and regional leaders. The plan recommends reinventing Rupp Arena, building a new convention center and constructing new commercial, residential and educational space downtown.
Capilouto called the Rupp District plan a compelling vision for the community’s future and emphasized the importance of UK and the City working together.
“Our futures are, without question, inextricably linked. Our plans for development and growth must be linked together as well,” he said. “I appreciate the efforts of the Task Force. The next step is to focus on how the project will be financed.”
Gov. Steve Beshear, who called the Rupp District one of the state’s top economic development project, and Frankfort legislators included $2.5 million in the state’s two-year budget for the initial work on Rupp Arena. The funds require a 100 percent local match.
Gray has included $1.25 million in his budget proposal, now under consideration by the Urban County Council. In addition the Convention and Visitors Bureau has approved $200,000 over two years and the Lexington Center Corp. has approved $250,000 over two years for the District.
“With UK’s commitment of Frank’s time and talent, we’re taking a big step forward,” Gray said.
Donating Butler’s time to this process over the next several months reinforces UK’s commitment to this initiative and to Lexington, Capilouto said.
“It is critical that the university continues to participate in this process without compromising our chief priority of seeking state dollars and assistance in revitalizing our campus core,” he said. “That continues to be the best way we can honor The Kentucky Promise of educating our undergraduate students to lead this state’s future.”
UK is planning to construct some 9,000 residence hall beds over the next five to seven years as part of a $500 million public-private partnership to completely overhaul university housing and is developing plans to revitalize its campus.
The city and UK are also working together to address concerns in the neighborhoods surrounding campus. Earlier this month, the city, UK, Transylvania and Bluegrass Community and Technical College unveiled a report from U3 Ventures, a Philadelphia-based real estate development company that specializes in town-gown relations.
The report suggested a number of proposals for further developing collaboration between UK and the community, with the goal of revitalizing the neighborhoods that surround campus. UK is about to undertake revisions to its long-term master plan, a process that will involve the city and surrounding neighborhoods.
Gray and Capilouto said the city and the University can build on one another’s success. “Lexington is an incredible brand, known for the incomparable beauty of our landscape, our horse and bourbon industries, and increasingly, a high-tech, entrepreneurial climate. UK is an incredible brand as well, known for its nationally renowned academic and research enterprises, as well as its sports teams. Linking those brands and growing them together is how we build a Great American City,” Gray said.
Butler has some 40 years of high-level management experience, overseeing the finances of complex institutions, including Chandler Hospital and the University’s budget of more than $2.7 billion annually, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate transactions.
As executive vice president at UK since 2005, Butler oversaw the work of some 2,500 employees in the treasurer’s office, the budget, real estate and facilities, human resources and information technology. Previously, he served as vice president for medical center operations, vice chancellor for planning and systems development for Chandler Hospital and director of UK Hospital.