Retail survey to show what downtown needs

The Downtown Development Authority has initiated a retail survey to find ways to encourage more locally owned businesses to open downtown.

As the first step, "We inventoried what is on the first floor of every building in the downtown core, whether it is food, office, entertainment, commercial or if it's vacant," Harold Tate, president of the DDA, told board members Monday.

The recently compiled results focused on an area bounded by Loudon Avenue, Manchester Street, Red Mile Road and Midland Avenue.

During the next step, to begin immediately, a group of merchants, DDA staff and board members will scrutinize what is needed downtown, and the obstacles faced by people who want to open such businesses.

Potential business owners might need a business plan, training in running a business, a location or a loan to get started, Tate said. "It continues to amaze me the number of people who want to work for themselves," he added. "With today's economy, everybody is rethinking opportunities right now."

Tate said he expects projects such as the downtown streetscape plan, Lexington Farmers Market Pavilion and the Legacy Trail to spur new business.

As an example, he pointed to the Legacy bike trail, which will begin at the Isaac Murphy Art Garden on East Third Street and end at the Kentucky Horse Park on Ironworks Pike when it's finished next September.

"People will want to rent bikes, get bikes repaired, have something to drink. Bingo — all opportunities for new retail over there," he said.

Prime locations for retail growth, Tate said, are West Main and Broadway, West Third and North Limestone, Esplanade and East Main, and Angliana and South Broadway.

Retail survey results are expected after the first of the year.