Lexington’s East End and North Limestone neighborhoods will soon have economic revitalization plans to help guide commercial development.
Lexington was selected as one of seven cities in the country to be a demonstration site for a National Main Street Center program that will provide National Main Street Center staff for 12 to 18 months to cities to help develop commercial revitalization plans. The staff will advise how to best involve neighborhoods, execute long-term strategies for economic development and how to measure if those plans are working.
The project, which will be coordinated through the Lexington Downtown Development Authority, is funded through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The North Limestone Community Development Corporation and the Blue Grass Community Foundation will be partners in the two plans.
Jeff Fugate, president of Lexington Downtown Development Authority, said the plan will help identify needs in both the city’s East End and the North Limestone area. The National Main Street Center will be able to “provide valuable guidance and direction in growing opportunity in our downtown neighborhoods,” he said.
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The Knight Foundation has provided Lexington with grant money for other projects, including the Legacy Trail and Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden. North Limestone Community Development Corporation was also awarded a 2015 Knights Cities challenge grant.
The Knight Foundation had encouraged Lexington to apply for the National Main Street pilot program, said Lisa Adkins, CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation. “Knight encouraged us to apply precisely because of our track record in successfully carrying out other Knight Foundation initiatives that make our city more vibrant, dynamic and accessible to all.”
Mark Wagner, vice president of revitalization of the National Main Street Center, said Main Street Center staff will be in Lexington by late January. The group will be doing extensive community outreach to determine the needs of the two neighborhoods. The group hopes to have a plan within 100 days. But the plan is just the beginning, Wagner said. It also has to be implemented. Main Street staff will also help measure if that plan is working.
“We are looking to get started in late January,” Wagner said. “Within 100 days there will be strategies developed and then there will be a period of implementation.”
The Main Street Center is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.