Two downtown Lexington groups are moving forward with a merger that will create one organization to spearhead both downtown events and economic development.
The boards of both the Downtown Lexington Corporation, a membership based organization that hosts popular events such as Thursday Night Live, and the Lexington Downtown Development Authority, which oversees economic development, have voted to merge the two groups to create one group — the Downtown Lexington Partnership.
The new board of the Downtown Lexington Partnership has hired Alan Stein of the Stein Group to serve as the interim executive director. Stein will work over the next few months to combine the operations, identify a new office location and develop a job description for the new executive director position.
Stein hopes to have a new executive director in place by Aug. 1.
Last year, a third group, the Downtown Lexington Management District, was created to enhance the safety and beauty of downtown. Funded through a tax increase on downtown properties, the day-to-day management of that district is through a contract with the Downtown Lexington Corp.
The management district’s board will remain in place. It must remain a separate legal entity because of the taxes used to fund it, Stein said. But it will likely come under the new Downtown Lexington Partnership through a contract.
Those who pushed for the consolidation say it will create one umbrella organization for all of downtown, decreasing confusion.
“This new partnership is an opportunity to provide one portal for everything downtown,” said Steve Grossman Sr., vice president of Hillard-Lyons and chairman of the new board for Downtown Lexington Partnership.
Some members of the Urban County Council have pushed for the two groups and the new management district for downtown to combine under one umbrella. The Downtown Lexington Corp. and the Downtown Development Authority receive city funds. In 2017, the Downtown Development Authority received $324,540 in city money. Downtown Lexington Corp. received $42,710.
The two groups will continue to receive separate allocations for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Stein said. Once the two groups combine, the Lexington Downtown Partnership will receive one budget from the city, he said.
Cost savings won’t happen immediately, Stein said. Cost savings is also not the reason why the two groups combined, he said.
“I don’t anticipate right off the bat, that we will save any money,” he said. “There may be some synergies that we find later where there is some duplication.”
In the meantime, the Downtown Lexington Corp. and Downtown Development Authority will continue to operate as separate entities until the merger is completed in late summer or early fall.