Fayette County

Work begins on renovation of Lexington's Cheapside Park

Preparation began Tuesday for the reworking of Cheapside Park, including construction of a multiuse iron and glass pavilion.

After a pre-construction meeting with city officials Tuesday morning, "We set up fences and brought in equipment," said Clay Turner, site superintendent for Marrillia Design & Construction, which is doing the work. Construction officially began Wednesday.

The downtown park, next to the Lexington History Museum in the old Fayette County Courthouse, will have granite pavers laid in a variety of patterns. LED lights will be embedded in the walkways.

Fifth Third Bank donated $750,000 for the naming rights for the pavilion, which will be home to the Lexington Farmers Market on Saturdays and other events throughout the year, including Thursday Night Live, art shows and festivals.

New storm sewer lines will be laid under Cheapside street. When that work is completed, the street will be paved with permeable pavers to reduce storm water runoff and increase absorption. Cheapside Street has been closed to through traffic for a couple of years, allowing more room when crowds gather for events, and easing congestion for bars and restaurants that face the park and offer sidewalk dining.

The statue of John C. Breckinridge will be moved in the next two weeks by Fayette Monument Co. It has stood on Cheapside for a century. Breckinridge served as vice president and in the U.S. Senate before joining the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The statue will be moved 40 or 50 feet to the Main Street side of the park and turned to face the street.

Numerous small historic markers have been removed during construction. "The most important part is preserving the history of this spot. The markers will all go back to their rightful places when work is finished," Turner said.

Biweekly meetings are scheduled with area business owners "so they can express their concerns and we can tell them what we'll be doing for the next couple of weeks," Turner said. "Everybody has been very friendly. They're excited about the park."

Sidewalks in front of those businesses will be replaced in sections, allowing as much pedestrian traffic to continue as possible.

The city has given Marrillia permission to work extended hours, including nights and weekends. The company is under an "absolute deadline" to have work completed by April 9, he said. The Farmers Market opens for the season the next morning.

Marrillia also is renovating the building at 259 West Short Street, which overlooks the park, for Dudley's, a longtime Lexington restaurant that will reopen in the new location in March.