Preserve historic transit center

LexTran's building, on West Loudon Avenue, was built in 1928 for Consolidated Coach Corp. and was later used by Southeastern Greyhound.
LexTran's building, on West Loudon Avenue, was built in 1928 for Consolidated Coach Corp. and was later used by Southeastern Greyhound.

Here's hoping LexTran can get the modern headquarters it needs while preserving the historic home of two public transit pioneers.

Refurbishing the 83-year-old brick structure at the corner of Loudon Avenue and North Limestone into a LEED-certified headquarters for Lexington's bus system would be a terrific accomplishment.

It would be a great example of adapting part of Lexington's built history for a new use in a highly energy-efficient building — something the city must do more and better, if it's to grow without destroying its signature rural landscape or historic character.

The renovation would anchor the continued redevelopment of an urban neighborhood that's pulling itself up by the bootstraps.

There's been quite a bit of private investment in historic structures in the North Limestone corridor. What a shame it would be for a public agency to come along now and tear out a significant piece of the neighborhood's historic architectural fabric.

LexTran officials are concerned the cost of rehabilitating the building, which LexTran bought in 2001, would be significantly higher than demolishing it and starting from scratch.

The building was built by the Consolidated Coach Corp. in 1928 when travel by car and bus was just becoming widespread. The company became Southeastern Greyhound, once Lexington's largest employer and the city's first company traded on Wall Street.

At the time LexTran bought the building it was not deemed historically significant but has since qualified for the National Register of Historic Places.

LexTran has two grants from the Federal Transportation Administration totaling almost $12 million to consolidate its operations — including offices, garage and parking — at the site.

The historic designation assures the public will have a chance to comment on the building's future and LexTran's plans.

LexTran's contractor and architects are still putting together cost estimates and comparisons. Rehabbing old buildings is usually the greenest approach by minimizing the use and waste of materials.

One of LexTran's greatest selling points is conservation of resources. (Lexington, spurred by gasoline prices, is buying. Ridership has been up each of the last four years and every month this year.)

It only makes sense for LexTran, working in concert with preservationists, to find an innovative way to conserve this important historic resource, while giving new life to an old but important corner.