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Renovated National Avenue building went from warehouse to ‘masterpiece’

Renovated National Avenue building ‘a masterpiece’

Now renovated and full of new tenants, the 740 National Avenue building now houses the White Dress of Lexington, Make-a-Cake Cupcakes and more.
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Now renovated and full of new tenants, the 740 National Avenue building now houses the White Dress of Lexington, Make-a-Cake Cupcakes and more.

Where can you buy a wedding dress, a dozen custom cupcakes, redo your living room and eavesdrop on a rehearsal for the upcoming ballet, “Dracula”? National Avenue.

Remodeled by Walker Properties earlier this year, the former warehouse and office space at 740 National Avenue is now stuffed with businesses, almost all owned by women.

In the front, there’s The White Dress of Lexington. Julia Reese, who owns it with Beverly Coleman, said they love the new space, which has three private dressing rooms for brides.

They come complete with comfy couches for the bride’s entourage and sweeping Tiffany blue velvet curtains for the big dress “reveal” — because everyone wants that “yes!” moment now.

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One of the bridal dressing rooms at The White Dress of Lexington at 740 National Avenue. This building has been remodeled to hold several women-owned businesses. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

In the main showroom, there’s even an elevated stage underneath the exposed steal beam and wooden rafters for brides who want even more “wow.”

Reese said the stage, which was the Walkers’ idea, almost didn’t happen because her partner just couldn’t see it. But now they wouldn’t be without their “cool, ultra modern space” that shows off everything.

“They have just really made this space a masterpiece,” Reese said. “Everybody loves the platform and the stage. People come through the door and that’s the first thing they see, so they are in awe of all these pretty dresses.”

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One of the wedding dresses at The White Dress of Lexington at 740 National Avenue. This building has been remodeled to hold several women-owned businesses. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

The store, which had been off Southland Drive, opened in September, just ahead of October, which is the busiest time for weddings.

“Most of the brides just really love it ... we have proper dressing suites and they can bring all the people they want to, and just have fun,” Reese said. “Brides have their own space and time.”

Around the corner, on the Ashland Avenue side of the building, just behind the bridal shop, is the new Make-a-Cake Cupcake Bar, opened in August by sisters Keysha Cuyler, Yvonne Robinson and Natasha Hickman.

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Co-owner Keysha Cuyler in her Make-A-Cake Cupcake Bar at 740 National Avenue. This building has been remodeled to hold several women-owned businesses. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

If it’s warm enough, she opens the store’s garage-style door onto a courtyard every afternoon and the smell of sweet baking cupcakes and waffles made with cupcake batter wafts out ... and the customers waft in, from the bridal store, from the yoga place, from the break-out games place across the street and from the nearby elementary school.

“Business has been great,” Cuyler said. “We’re having fun with the kids coming in, going to start doing birthday parties on Sundays.”

Customers come in, pick out their flavor of cupcake or waffle, an icing and filling flavor and toppings and wait. Then they dive in. Cuyler said that sometimes kids don’t want to leave. One boy, who was having a birthday party at ArtPlay next door, smelled the cupcakes, wandered in and didn’t want to go back — “To his own party!” Cuyler adds.

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A waffle made with cupcake batter at Make-A-Cake Cupcake Bar at 740 National Avenue. This building has been remodeled to hold several women-owned businesses. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Next to the cupcake place is an interior design firm, Maple & Murphy, a studio opened by Hannah Maple and Jamie Murphy where customers can sit indoors or out and plan their new looks for the home.

Further back in the building are the Reform Pilates Studio, rehearsal rooms for the Kentucky Ballet Theatre, space for florist Rose & Thistle and for Latitude Arts, a gallery for people considered to have disabilities.

The new businesses in the building helped tip the demographics of National Avenue, Chad Walker said earlier this year: There are now more women-owned businesses than men-owned ones in the area, a big selling point for newcomers, he said.

That’s something he’s hoping to build upon with the redesign and new tenants.

“We’ve got wedding dresses, cakes, a florist, a caterer (Seasons Catering is next door)... we’d like to make this area ‘Wedding Central’ for Lexington,” Walker said.

He’s already got a good start: A map produced by the Warehouse Block merchants earlier this year, shows an area full of home furnishings stores, hair salons, yoga and fitness studios, and much more.

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