Plans for a glass pavilion in Cheapside Park for the Lexington Farmers Market, curbside rain gardens and raised water features on Vine Street were unveiled Thursday as part of the city's new downtown streetscape.
Mayor Jim Newberry called the streetscape plans exciting and said they would transform downtown.
Finding money will be a challenge, given the economic crisis that grips the country, Newberry said. All financing requires approval of the Urban County Council. Some money is included in his current budget. Other money might come from tax increment financing and federal stimulus funds, according to the mayor.
Work for this first phase is expected to cost $18 million. Plans call for phase 1 to be finished by July 2010.
If money is available, the city wants to complete work on Vine Street from South Broadway to South Limestone, Main Street from Broadway to Rose Street and Limestone from Avenue of Champions to Fourth Street.
A permanent pavilion for the Farmers Market will be built. And water features on Vine Street will follow the path of Town Branch, a creek that runs below Vine Street, through downtown.
For this year, a temporary home for the Farmers Market on Saturdays will be created in Cheapside Park by removing two concrete fountains.
Some farmers will set up booths along Short Street between North Mill and North Upper. Those two blocks will be closed from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Cheapside Park lies in the Courthouse Area Design Zone, where any changes must be approved by the Design Review Board. The board meets Wednesday to consider the city's request to redesign the park.
Assuming approval is granted, consultant Clete Benken said work could start immediately to have the site ready for opening day of the market on April 11.
The pavilion, similar to a European-style market house, will be built after the 2009 outdoor farmers market season ends. In addition to the market, it can be used for Thursday Night Live, cultural events and arts fairs.
Benken, a principal in KKG Studios, the Covington-based consulting firm that designed the streetscape plan, researched the history of Cheapside Park and the area around the old courthouse. It was the site of a slave market as well as commercial trade including carriages and early automobiles. Final plans for Cheapside will be sensitive to its complex history, Newberry said.
Main and Vine streets will have wider sidewalks, bike lanes and non-peak-hour street parking, adding 170 more parking spaces downtown. Benken said the wider sidewalks will provide space for rain gardens, sidewalk cafés and places to sit.
The CentrePointe development will not be far enough along in the next 16 months for new sidewalks on that block. But new sidewalks will be installed on the north side of Main Street from Broadway to Limestone, and on the south side from Broadway to Upper. New sidewalks on Vine will be on the south side from Broadway to Limestone, on the north side from Broadway to Upper.
Improvements to Vine Street also will be sensitive to the city's history.
All streets and sidewalks are being designed for converting one-way streets to two-way. That can start with Short and Second streets, Newberry said. Other streets can be converted rather easily, also. Switching Main and Vine would be "enormously difficult" in part because those are state roads and the state has to have input, Newberry said. While many downtown merchants want to see those streets made two-way, Newberry said he didn't expect to see that happen "in my lifetime."
Improvements to Limestone will start at Avenue of Champions and extend to Fourth Street with utilities buried and new curbs and sidewalks constructed. Work might be finished only to High or Vine streets by July 2010, Benken said.
It's hard to predict how fast work can progress, said Mike Webb, commissioner of public works and development; until digging starts, the city doesn't know how many complications, such as buried gas lines and sewers, it will encounter.
The plan calls for making Limestone more pedestrian- and bike-friendly to encourage more engagement between downtown and Transylvania University, and downtown with the University of Kentucky. The street will be lined with trees, rain gardens and limestone kiosks with lighted tops.