As the Shops at Lexington Center continue closing in anticipation of an expanded convention center, one of the center’s anchor tenants has announced plans to move on.
Shelia Bayes Fine Jewelers is holding a store closing sale before moving to The Summit on Nicholasville Road, where it will open in April 2017. The store has no closing date but will be open through Christmas.
Shelia Bayes opened her jewelry store 22 years ago at Fayette Mall.
A year later she moved to Lexington Center — first to a small space, then a larger one. Now her store, along with Artique, are the two de facto anchor stores of the shops.
In addition to the new store, Bayes said she is also planning to expand her business’ online presence.
“It’s been a decision that’s been a long time coming,” Bayes said of the move.
Retail stores at the Lexington Center shops “just continue to keep closing. They (management) are focused so much on the expansion and renovation,” Bayes said.
The shops, located between the Hyatt and Rupp Arena, include Old Kentucky Chocolates, Straus Tobacconist, Lexi + Lou apparel and an array of fast-food restaurants including Arby’s, Subway, Cosi and Mr. Kan. But there are also at least four vacant spots, and foot traffic during a recent afternoon visit was sparse.
Closings have included Lafayette Galleries, the Toy Shop and the Hallmark store.
Bill Owen, president and chief executive officer of Lexington Center Corporation, said that the Lexington Center stores will all close at some point after construction begins on the civic center renovation. That is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of 2017.
All the merchants and owners are aware that they will be closing or moving their operations elsewhere. Owen said. The construction will take place for about 30 months, “and that area will be in the latter phases of construction.”
In the renovated civic center, Owen said, “there is a plan to have some amount of retail and casual dining and food service included in the project, but it won’t be where the existing shops are. ... Ultimately the whole area of the shops goes away.”
Lexington Center was a reluctant landlord, he said, although it sold the Hyatt space back to the private sector in 1996, it was never able to sell the retail space.
“Lexington Center became a landlord kind of by default,” Owen said.
The Summit will include retail tenants including Pottery Barn, Brooks Brothers, Arhaus, a furniture store that currently has a Lexington location at Hamburg; Warby Parker, the popular hipster glasses company; and Whole Foods, which will move to The Summit from the Mall at Lexington Green.
The Summit will also include restaurants, apartments and office space.
Michael and Kathryn Stutland, the owners of Artique, which has a Lexington Center store as well as one at The Mall at Lexington Green, could not be reached for comment.
Don Hurt, owner of Old Kentucky Chocolates, which has a store in the Lexington Center shops as well as on Southland Drive and in the Lansdowne Shopppes, said his store will stay until the end.
Old Kentucky Chocolates stayed until the end of Turfland Mall on Harrodsburg Road, which closed in 2008, he said.
“We like our store downtown, and I hate to see the change,” Hurt said.