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City inching closer towards building convention center

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:09 PM EST
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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) - Leaders in the City of Ashland have been working for nearly a decade to put a convention center downtown.

The former Ashland Oil Building had several uses over the years, but has sat vacant for quite some time. The city plans to build a convention center and parking garage in its place located next to the Delta Hotels by Marriot.

On Wednesday, the city manager, engineer, and public information officer took a tour of the building. Inside, stacked china sat on the floor near the cafeteria, and office supplies from the radio station remained untouched.

City Engineer Steven Cole says the building has a significant amount of asbestos.

It creates challenges for crews during the demolition process.

“We’re going to monitor the amount of asbestos that may come in contact with the air to make sure those levels are safe during demolition,” said Cole. “We will be using a vibration monitor to make sure there is no structural damage done to the historic church.”

There currently is a convention center in Boyd County.

This would make for a second, but located solely in downtown Ashland.

City Manager Mike Graese said he’s heard criticism from community members who believe two is too many, but the venues serve different audiences.

“You’re looking at attracting different groups. I can’t speak for the Judge-Executive or county leaders but I believe they have a different vision for what they’ve got, focused more on entertainment,” Graese said. “This [convention center] compliments what already exists, the Paramount, and our downtown. "

Commissioner Amanda Clark also echoed similar thoughts.

“We’re looking to add a space where we can host state conferences that we know we miss out on. Typically, Lexington, Louisville, or Cincinnatti are chosen because we don’t have a facility to host 200 to 300 people,” Clark said.

Clark believes this can draw millions of dollars in tourism each year and tackle demolishing a blighted property.

“Every dollar that is spent in the Central business district helps every aspect of the city from the police department to the water department and tourism.”

In Boyd County, nearly $16 million are spent each year, according to Clark.

“Tourism dollars are people from the outside coming in. Every bit of revenue we can collect from people outside here is one less cent we have to put back on our citizens,” Clark said.

There are no project renderings available to share.

The bid for demolition is expected to be announced later this week.

Demolition will begin sometime in the spring of 2022.

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