Dining is the top activity that brings people to Lexington's downtown, according to a recently completed telephone survey of Lexingtonians.
Yet downtown's dining options are considered only the fifth-best characteristic of the area; cleanliness was first with 38 percent of respondents.
"The highest rated attribute in downtown is less than 40 percent," said Phil Osborne, CEO of Preston-Osborne, which conducted the survey. "It's embarrassing. We have to change it."
The Downtown Lexington Corp. wants to change people's opinion about downtown. It plans to use data from the survey to create a targeted marketing plan to attract more people downtown.
"People don't realize that there's parking," said Renee Jackson, executive director of the Downtown Lexington Corp. "People don't realize there's nice restaurants."
In the survey, parking and shopping scored as the two worst characteristics about downtown.
People would have a better idea of the parking and shopping opportunities if the city changed the sign ordinance to allow better signage, Jackson said.
Except for the areas of night life and dining options, people who live in or work in downtown have the same general opinions about downtown as those who don't, Osborne said.
Nearly 32 percent of people said they visit downtown for leisure activities at least two to three times a month, but 41 percent said they visit downtown less than twice a year, the survey said.
Preston-Osborne's survey of 401 Lexington residents, balanced between those who live inside and outside of New Circle Road, was conducted between July 30 and August 13. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.