At the corner of Winchester Road and Delaware Avenue, you can catch a glimpse of the expansion of the hottest corridor in Lexington.
At 801 Winchester Road, which formerly housed an antiques and collectibles retail business, there now is Koller Warner Construction, furnished with an industrial chic style with posh furnishings, shiny concrete floors and a view of about 50,000 cars a day passing by its front glass window. The building is shared with Synergy Home, which has installed solar panels to power a free electric car-charging space and decrease its energy bill.
Across the street, at 780 Winchester Road, a renovated building will house the Griffith-Catlett-Hampton Insurance Group in the space that was formerly Auto Tech, an automotive repair and maintenance shop. The insurance group is now on Thunderstick Drive off Winchester Road near the interstate.
The development changes haven’t gone unnoticed.
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“Winchester Road is ready to explode,” said Fayette County property valuation administrator David O’Neill, who said he has been touting the area for years.
For years Winchester Road and its surrounding streets seemed to be a chronicle of urban blight, with the “porn district” — an adult club and two adult novelty stores — in particular serving as a counterpoint to thriving businesses such as Kentucky Lighting and Supply and Murphy’s Camera.
The neighborhood that is now on fire includes Winchester Road and businesses along Delaware and National avenues. Lesme Romero of Pasta Garage at 962 Delaware Avenue welcomes the new developments within walking distance of his restaurant, which is now ready to begin serving wine and beer.
Already his neighbors include Barnhill Chimney, Pivot Brewing, Cowgirl Attic retail store, Nomi Architecture Design Fabrication, Longwood Antique Woods and Pomegranate fashion and home goods (technically on Lagonda Avenue).
“We’re really excited to be here in a place that is growing at a pace that was hard to imagine,” Romero said. “We’re so close to downtown, that’s why this area is becoming so popular. It’s a cool vibrant neighborhood that we’re forming together.”
Head a block over to the corner of Liberty Road and you’ll be at Charlie’s Fresh Seafood and the home design district including the Room Service. At 800 Winchester Road sits the former Big Ass Fans building, assessed at $822,500 by the Fayette property valuation administrator’s office. Numerous calls to the company, now called Big Ass Solutions, about the building’s future were not returned.
In Mike Warner’s industrial-style office there is room enough for 13-year-old spaniel, Bailey, who has a bed beneath Warner’s desk and other employees. While the office might seem a nice place for a dog snooze now, the building needed some shining up before the company moved in.
“When we first walked in here, it was tough,” Warner said.
The two companies aren’t the only ones getting in on an increasingly appealing near-downtown area near Delaware Avenue and National Avenue. National Avenue includes draws such as Locals restaurant and La Petite Delicat and Nate’s Coffee.
“Delaware’s really turning,” said Jamie Clark of Synergy Home. “National’s really hot.”
Both Koller Warner, which moved from Loudon Avenue, and Synergy, which moved from Industry Road, appreciate having frontage along the busy near-downtown corridor. Synergy nearly doubled its space, from 2,200 square feet to about 4,000 square feet, to house its 25 employees and business supplies.
The Griffith Catlett Hampton Insurance building renovation, by Tom Cheek Design Build, will include tall ceilings, hanging lights, lots of glass, offices and cubicles. By the time the project is ready in 2018, it will look very little like the garage building that has stood on the lot since 1948.
Griffith Catlett Hampton is the largest locally owned independent insurance agency in Lexington. It plans to acquire 902 Delaware Avenue as well as renovating the former Auto Tech building. Auto Tech moved to 1405 North Broadway near the Whitaker Bank Ballpark, home of the Lexington Legends.
Now cleared inside, with the garage lifts and oil pits gone, the building looks like a 7,200-foot skating rink. But when completed it will include a wall full of offices, a host of cubicles, a conference room and break room for the company’s 28 employees. The building will also host 34 parking spaces. Cheek said it will also get much-needed additional green space to break up the concrete and asphalt monotony around the building.
And the garage doors? Despite the popularity of garage doors as adornment for restaurants, for this office space they’re gone.
Who looks at a garage and sees a modern office building?
Russell Griffith said he knew the space could be adapted: “I’ve done a lot of building in the past. We knew we could accomplish what we wanted to accomplish.”