The horse farm motif is used everywhere from our jail to our schools. Why not on an empty block in the middle of downtown Lexington?
Work started Tuesday to erect a four-plank fence, typically found at horse farms, around the CentrePointe block where a hotel and condominium project has been proposed.
"We wanted to dress it up, make it look nice, developer Dudley Webb said. "We told the community we wouldn't leave it an eyesore."
Seven employees from Myers Fencing in Nicholasville began setting 120 fence posts around the perimeter of the block Tuesday. John Jackson, one of the workers, said he expected the fence to be completed Friday. It will have five gates, one on each corner and a service gate on the Vine Street side, and will be painted black.
Webb said that in addition to the aesthetics of a having a signature horse farm fence around the property, the 2-acre site is being enclosed to prevent vandalism, such as trucks or all-terrain vehicles ripping across the block, tearing up the grass before it gets established.
"We spent a lot of money down there to beautify it, and we certainly don't want it destroyed," Webb said.
Asked why people wouldn't respect the grassy plot, Webb chuckled. "Based on prior experience. We had terrible rains over the weekend, and we have mud holes down there we're trying to cure. We put those 'no trespassing' signs in those areas to keep people out."
Webb declined to say whether the block would become a public-style plaza or whether the public would have access at all. He has offered it as a venue to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and to the LexArts, possibly for HorseMania 2010.
"We haven't talked to our insurance carrier. We would have to get a special rider for those types uses, which we can do with very little problem," he said.
Several people have asked whether there will be actual horses there. No, Webb said. But a fence company employee jested with a passerby Wednesday, saying retired racehorses would be pastured there.
A complaint about dangerous sidewalks around the block was lodged with the city several weeks ago. David Jarvis, director of code enforcement, said The Webb Companies was contacted about making repairs. The site is still covered by a demolition permit, which prevents the city from citing the developers, he said.
The sidewalks will be repaired when the fence is completed, Webb said. "We'll meet our responsibilities."
After old buildings were razed last year, the block was alternately a dust bowl and mud hole, depending on the weather, until it was seeded with Kentucky bluegrass this summer.
Beautification has included clearing demolition debris, spreading top soil, installing an irrigation system, seeding it and now building a fence. How much has that cost?
"Substantially more than we intended," Webb said.
But until something is built there, he said, "This will be a good interim use."