Lexington mall

Readers remember Lexington Mall, offer ideas for space

November 26, 2009 

Kentucky.com: Read the full series, which also detailed a potential redevelopment plan at Turfland Mall and offered updates on other shopping centers.

Paul Joice, graduate of the University of Kentucky and a research analyst with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Arlington, Va.: "Rather than thinking of Lexington Mall as a blight or an eyesore, think of it as an incredible opportunity. Across the country, demographic changes and resource constraints are driving increased demand for walkable urban environments.

"Growing up in Lexington in the 1980s and 1990s, I watched the development of shopping centers at the edge of the city and sprawling subdivisions in Fayette's neighboring counties. This development pattern was appealing in a world of cheap gas and large households. But times are changing. Oil is more scarce and more expensive. Households are shrinking, driven by young single professionals and empty nesters. And with increasing awareness of the challenges of climate change, people are looking for a more 'sustainable' lifestyle.

"This is not some East and West Coast trend that doesn't apply to Lexington. ... Recent downtown development has begun to meet this need, and projects around the Newtown Pike extension are promising; but it's not necessary to focus all the energy downtown.

"Long before recent changes in the housing market, a variety of factors — from online retail to continual development of newer, bigger malls further on the urban fringe — began undermining older retail centers like Turfland and Lexington malls. This problem is not unique to Lexington, and the innovative solutions utilized elsewhere should guide plans for Lexington Mall. ...

"Why shouldn't high-density walkable and transit-oriented districts also spread throughout the city? Lexington's political leaders, developers, and citizens should embrace Lexington and Turfland Malls as two great places to start this trend."

Scott Bergstrom, Lexington: "The year was 1978 ... I had just earned my driver's license and freedom of the road. The favorite congregation spot with my friends was Lexington Mall.

"From the movie theater to see the latest Star Wars, the delicious smells of caramel popcorn popping at the treat shop; Phillip Gall's Outdoors, where I bought my first pair of serious hiking boots that my son now wears; and Schwab's Tobacco, where I bought my dad's favorite pipe tobacco for Father's Day and McAlpins for gifts for mom, Lexington Mall will always be a favorite memory of mine."

Jim Craig, Lexington: "I would redevelop the property as 'Teen Town.' My target demographic would be kids from 11 to 19, and my target tenants would be the many businesses who cater to this demographic — clothing stores, fast food, sporting goods, cell phones, video games, shoes, etc.

"I would reopen the existing movie theaters, add a modern dance club for teens and build an outdoor skate/extreme sport bike park. Interior space could also be used for a state-of-the-art arcade, video game center and cyber café. ... Teen Town would draw teens from Fayette and all surrounding counties."

Ken Robertson, Lexington: "It would be a good move for all of Fayette if we could move the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government offices to the Lexington Mall site. There would be plenty of parking, room for all departments. ... You could do all of your government business at one location without going from one place to another in your car. ...

"The downtown buildings are old and could be torn down to provide needed space to build more downtown residential housing. This would help in getting a grocery store and drug store."

Bunny Holman, Lexington: "I live in Chevy Chase and have for over 25 years. The blight of the Lexington Mall has been a thorn in my side ever since it closed. It is so sad to see valuable real estate, especially something in such a pleasantly desirable location, go unattended and in disrepair. ...

"A city of our population and spending habits needs a Pottery Barn, a Cheesecake Factory, a Crate and Barrel. I could go on and on.

"My son lives in Los Angeles and is an architect. He grew up in Lexington, and is constantly telling me how 'provincial' it is. I would love to show him that we have something 'cool' going on."

Marie Preston, Versailles: "I'd suggest placing green space in the center of the property and then build around it.

"Townhouses, condos, and apartments could be built in a complete circle around the green space. ... Residential areas would be surrounded with a wide brick or stone pedway with trees and other greenery and have no car access. Encircling this pedway would be every kind of business.

"Narrow lanes would be placed in at least four areas — east, west, north and south — so limited vehicular access could intersect the development from its outermost businesses to the center of the property.

"This green design would offer the inviting convenience, safety, and security of a multi-use development."

Adam Luckey, Lexington: "When I first moved to Lexington in 1987, the Lexington Mall was one of the big places to go.

"I was 13, and I was a frequent visitor to Musicland and Philip Gall's when it was the only place in town to get skateboard equipment. This was many years before the Woodland Skate Park was even an idea.

"I remember that they used to give out 'Skateboarding Is Not a Crime' bumper stickers when you purchased something because back then it almost seemed to be."

As we near one of the busiest shopping days of the year, let's take a moment to look at one shopping center that won't be packed: Lexington Mall.

In the conclusion of the recent series on Lexington's retail sector, the Herald-Leader asked readers to submit their memories of and suggestions for Lexington Mall, the once vibrant shopping center that has sat vacant since Dillard's left in 2005.

Here are some of the responses.

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