With Short Street the focal point for Breeder's Cup Festival Week in late October, city officials unveiled pedestrian-friendly changes Thursday, including landscaping by renowned designer Jon Carloftis.
Benches, tables and plants have been added to the streetscape, with wider paths to make the area more attractive to walkers.
The changes are part of a temporary pilot program but might remain if the public likes them, Mayor Jim Gray said.
The award-winning Carloftis, a Kentucky native, added a variety of plants to the urban setting.
"We've taken the bounty of the Bluegrass and brought it downtown," said Jeff Fugate, president of the Lexington Downtown Development Authority.
Several groups sat Thursday and talked on the benches while pairs of people ate lunch at the new tables.
Other changes include back-in angled parking, instead of parallel spots, on the north side of the street from Market Street to North Limestone. On the other side of the street, parking spots were replaced by a traffic lane that was shifted to accommodate the wider pedestrian paths.
Although the one-way street has two lanes, some shop owners said they are worried that construction and delivery trucks obstructing one of the lanes could hurt business.
Anthony Likirdopulos, owner of Tony's Shoe Repair between North Upper Street and North Lime, fears that his customers will be deterred by the slow traffic and altered parking.
"I've worked downtown since 1967," Likirdopulos said. "And since 1968 I've been in this location, and this is the worst one I've seen."
But those who worked on the project think the slowed traffic improves the area, allowing drivers to look at the businesses and possibly stop.
Breeder's Cup Festival Week, which will include more than 32 live bands, will take place largely around Fifth Third Pavilion at Cheapside and Short Street. The pavilion is also the location of Thursday Night Live.
"This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to Lexington," Carloftis said of the pavilion. "You see people walking around. They're drinking and eating. ... It makes it feel like a real city."
Though the renovations might be temporary, organizers hope they will help downtown evolve into a thriving center.
"The Short Street renovation is just another layer that I think everybody's going to learn to love," Carloftis said.