I enjoyed the Dec. 18 article showcasing Mayor Jim Gray's vision for downtown Lexington. I had thought it was a plan to revitalize Rupp Arena but on seeing the proposal I was blown away. Rupp is a critical piece, of course, but his plan is much broader than that and is primarily about energizing all of downtown through good design.
While I have no credibility in urban planning, I have had the good fortune to spend many hours with the mayor on trips to Tokyo (me selling Maker's Mark, him selling his family company's design/construction capabilities). I came away from those conversations with the impression that Gray is a big-picture thinker. Unlike most builders I have known, he has a keen appreciation of the importance of good urban design.
I also had the good fortune of working with Lexington super-guru Jim Host as a member of Louisville's Arena Task Force. Host beat into our collective heads that the Louisville project must be about more than seats, suites and parking. As a downtown arena, it needed to architecturally fit its environment, be inviting, and most important, be an Energizer bunny for the East Main Street neighborhood. Thanks to Host, mission accomplished.
It would seem that Gray and Host are drinking the same Kool-Aid, and that could be very good for downtown Lexington.
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Good luck to all my Lexington friends as they stretch their brains to fully comprehend what the mayor has brought forward as a bold vision for downtown.
Bill Samuels Jr.
Chairman emeritusMaker's Mark Distillery Inc.