Anyone wondering whether the trend toward rehabbing smaller homes on Lexington's northside is a fad that will burn itself out someday soon should consider some numbers.
About 2.31 people live in the average household in Fayette County now. Like all of the United States, that number has been declining here for decades.
When Lexington, like the rest of the country, began to emerge from the last recession, the square footage of homes sold took a gradual uptick, but by mid-2012 that reversed sharply, with average size declining about 100 square feet to around 1,575 in mid-2013.
When the National Association of Home Builders polled its membership this year, 74 percent predicted new homes will be smaller.
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No surprise then that entrepreneurial individuals and organizations have been hard at work successfully renovating the historic housing that was home to Lexington's 19th century and early 20th century working class.
As Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen reported earlier this week, there's a lively market for houses in the 1,200-square-foot range on Rand and Johnson avenues.
Two local developers, Rock Daniels and Laurella Lederer, have separately been purchasing rundown rental properties and renovating them for sale.
Not far away, the North Limestone Community Development Corporation is helping redevelop homes on York Street under a new zoning that allows artists and craftspeople to live, work and sell from their homes.
With several funding sources, including a $425,000 ArtPlace America grant, the group bought 18 properties to renovate and sell for $100,000 or less. Profits get plowed back into the next property.
The idea is not only to create what's called a live-work community but to help support local artists, many of whom can't afford to pay separate rents for housing, studio and retail space.
The organic, building-by-building revitalization also attracts new, larger-scale investment, such as the $30 million, 16-story Thistle Station housing and commercial development planned for four acres between Third and Fourth streets on Newtown Pike.
Both Bluegrass Community and Technical College and Transylvania University have made huge investments in the area, but it's also gained new life from the exciting business redevelopment along nearby Jefferson Street.
Redevelopment projects often are dismissed as gentrification. But take a moment to consider the plight of longtime homeowners in these neighborhoods.
Their quality of life, and home values, have decreased as surrounding properties shifted from owner-occupied to rental properties.
Janice Hamilton, who with her husband has owned a home on Rand Avenue since 1981, told Eblen she's "looking forward to new homeowners."
With them the neighborhood is "coming back to the way it used to be... it's quiet, it's close to town. Everybody looks out for each other."