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Headley-Whitney will double in size: First expansion since museum opened in 1973

By Beverly Fortune, Herald-Leader [Lexington], July 28, 2007

The Headley-Whitney Museum opened in 1973 along Old Frankfort Pike. Jewelry designer George Headley has operated the unique museum since then, luring visitors into the heart of horse farm country to view a unique collection of jeweled baubles and other decorative items. It also features a large collection of custom doll houses and miniature versions of buildings on the C.V. Whitney Farm on Bryan Station Road -- a collection of the now-deceased Whitney.

The museum has not expanded since it opened, although a green light on July 27 from the Lexington Board of Adjustment has given the museum permission to grow in size. The project will more than double the size of the main museum building and add about 3,000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space. The additional space will allow the museum to take advantage of its status as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and bring Smithsonian collections to Lexington. The museum achieved Smithsonian affiliation status in 2003, which means it can partner directly with 19 Smithsonian museums to receive exhibits, collections, educational programs, and technical support.

In the plan, the new north wing will have two galleries, while the south wing will have a gallery, storage space, and an area to prepare exhibits for display and staff offices. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by May 2008 in time for the museum's annual Bibelot Brunch.

The museum was constructed on Headley's farm, La Belle, in part to house his collection of bibelots. Bibelots are small, but ornate decorative objects. Whitney, who was a sister-in-law of George Headley, died in 1985. In 1994, burglars broke into the museum and stole 103 of the unique items, which were never recovered.

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[Personal comment: Please disregard the reader comments in the news article. It didn't take long for the anti-alcohol readers to come out in full force, despite the fact that there are over a dozen bars and restaurants that serve alcohol within a few block radius...]

As downtown gets dwellers, restaurants follow their trail

By Beverly Fortune, Herald-Leader [Lexington], August 16, 2007

135 W. Main St. (left), which will host a restaurant.


On August 15, architects for a new restaurant planned for 135 W. Main Street and a martini bar across the street from the old Fayette County Courthouse came before the Lexington Courthouse Area Design Review Board.

Bobby Freisberg, who owns Dudley Square on S. Mill Street and the art gallery Balatro, purchased the vacant three-level building at 135 W. Main St. in 2005. A restaurant is slated for the first two floors, and offices or residential units on the third. The restaurant would be an "international cafe diner". Property owners around the proposed restaurant will be notified of the proposed changes and a public hearing will be held as part of the approval process.

Avena Kiely, owner of Harvey's at W. Main and S. Upper, will open Hugo's martini bar at 206 W. Main. It should be open by Halloween. The design board gave permission to replace all the first floor windows and doors with French doors, and to add three awnings to both 200 and 206 W. Main.


In related news, the Bang Nightclub at 117 N. Limestone, across from the Lexington courthouse complex, is seeking permission for a change in the design of its facade.

[Personal comment: ABOUT TIME! Most of the buildings along N. Limestone near the courthouse are fully restored, sans this out-of-place, and out-of-character 1950s building.]

Edited by seicer
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Plans being made to fix up downtown: Return of horse mania among the many projects

By Beverly Fortune And Linda Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 21, 2007

Lexington is aiming to beautify and energize downtown in preparation of the 2010 World Equestrian Games that will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park. The city, whose downtown was gutted by urban renewal more than 30 years ago, will be playing host to 300,000 spectators. The list of improvements is long, including public art, murals, concerts, new sidewalks, new landscaping, and decorated fiberglass sculptures from Horse Mania.

The center for these activities will be Phoenix Park at Limestone and Main, and the new courthouse plaza. Organizers have discussed a second medal ceremony that could take place there, which would be a way to lure spectators into the city and entertain residents who didn't see the actual Games.

The arts community is also making large plans for 2010. A downtown mural project that involves local artist, LexArts, and the Urban County Government will brighten the walls of many buildings. The details will be announced this fall, and the murals could be applied in late Spring.

There will also be changing exhibitions of sculpture that will be placed on Vine Street in a project called "Art on the Vine." This is an effort to get people to begin thinking Vine as a linear park. The first exhibition will be in 2008, if not sooner.

The city will also have another Horse Mania, which was a wildly popular project in 2000, when artists painted life-size fiberglass horse statues that were placed all around teh city. The project will d

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Housing plan angers residents: Developers intend to raze residences, put up student apartments

By Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 25, 2007

Map of proposed location

Developers would like to convert a deteriorated mobile home park off of S. Broadway and convert the property into a student housing complex. Ingleside Mobile Home Park, which has been a chronic code violator for years, is in poor condition. In 2000, the city condemned 32 of the 87 mobile homes in the park. In 2005, the State Fire Marshal found electrical hazards including electrical boxes without covers. Raw sewage was also found on the ground. In early 2007, inspectors noted many of the same issues from years past, and 20 mobile homes were condemned as a result. The mobile home park opened in the 1940s, carved out of property surrounding the Ingelside Castle, which was built in 1852. The once-famous house was demolished in 1964.

The new development, called Devonshire Apartments, would contain 190 two- and three-bedroom apartments on 6.8 acres on Devonshire Avenue. The units will be between 900 and 1,100 sq. ft. and will be market-rate units that will appeal to students and young professionals. It is within a 15-minute walk of the University of Kentucky campus.

A preliminary development plan for the Devonshire apartments will be presented Tuesday, and will be heard by the full planning commission on September 13.

The S. Broadway corridor has become a popular student housing corridor. Newtown Crossing, University Commons (180 apartments), South Hill Station Lofts (50 condos), University Lofts (86 loft apartments), and Huntington Apartments (132 apartments, with expansion of 240 apartments set). CenterCourt, at Upper and Bolivar, opens next week with 150 condos, and Phase II of CenterCourt will begin shortly. Shelbourne Plaza, at S. Broadway and Bolivar, will feature 320 apartments, and a project on Angliana Avenue will have 400 units.

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A developing story: High profile projects helped spark big changes

By Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader, September 4, 2007

Five years ago, South Hill would not have attracted many newcomers to the downtown housing market. The neighborhood, settled between the University of Kentucky and downtown, had a mix of restored historic houses and run-down properties, student housing, and blocks of empty, derelict tobacco warehouses. There were a few scattered businesses, including Dudley's restaurant, Pedal Power, and Bella Rose, but there was little to no new investment.

But today, South Hill is being transformed into a diverse, bustling urban area that has seen 250 new residential units, enterainment options, shopping venues, restaurants, and bars open within the past few years. And even more is planned.

A combination of factors has fueled the resurgence at South Hill: young professionals and couples without children that are looking to move from the suburbs to the city at reasonably-priced properties. In February 2002, the city of Lexington and the University of Kentucky agreed to fund a $200,000 College-Town Plan to study ways to revitalize the area between downtown and the university. South Hill occupies part of that area, and the goal of the plan was to create a physical and financial bridge between the university, with its thousands of students, and downtown merchants, restaurants and clubs. the consultant for the study said that every redevelopment needs a "spark" to jumpstart lasting change, and it was not identified in the study what that "spark" would be.

But many in South Hill believe that the "spark" came from Lexington lawyer-turned-developer Bill Lear and partner Jim Phelps who developed South Mill Commons, a multi-part development that includes upscale townhouses and apartments, tree-lined streets, gardens, and en emphasis on owner-occupied housing along South Mill Street. At first, 20 townhouses were built on South Mill and Pine streets, then came the $20 million CenterCourt, with its 72 condominiums and 13,000 sq. ft. of retail. Phase two with 84 condominiums and townhouses will start in the next 60 days.

Lear's interest in South Hill came about when he represented a developer who wanted to build a controversial suburban-style student housing project on South Mill.

Elsewhere, work progresses on Kimball House Square, a $12 million redevelopment on S. Limestone and S. Upper. When completed, it will feature 36 residential condos and 12,000 sq. ft. of retail. 68% of the units have been pre-sold. Blue Grass Cigar Company warehouse on Lawrence Street is being converted into four condominiums that will sell in the $400,000 range, and plans are on the drawing board for a townhouse project on Macks Alley. And on nearby S. Upper Street, many deteriorated houses are being restored.

Businessman Ben Kaufmann, who owns about 30 properties in South Hill, credits developer Rob Mcgoodwin as the first to see opportunity in the once-declining neighborhood. McGoodwin purchased a tobacco warehouse on Bolivar St. in 1993 and turned it into a retail center with Lazer Quest as the anchor in 1995. He closed Lazer Quest in 2003 to undertake a $5.5 million project to turn the tobacco warehouse into 86 loft-style rental apartments called University Lofts. In the adjoining tobacco warehouse, he created 66 loft condominiums called South Hill Station. All but 15 condos have been sold.

Just a few years ago, properties along S. Upper were a bargin. So many were badly neglected, that the asking price was quite low. One example is a house at 356 S. Upper that was purchased two years ago for a mere $150,000. A developer spent $450,000 to restore to the building and convert it into a duplex, and the 1,800 sq. ft. units are now for sale for $350,000 each. Another project that will soon be underway is to restore a house that was once divided into 12 student apartments; the end result with be three condos and a courtyard.

But that doesn't mean it's all going well. Earlier this summer, a historic church on S. Upper was demolished to make way for a suburban fast-food restaurant, Cane's Chicken Fingers.

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Personal comment: Where does Phillips expect students to live? With the university not able to afford additional housing projects or replace aging structures, the private sector must play catch-up. The 2050 Plan for the University calls for a lot of student housing, clustered around the Kirwan-Blanding complex, out by Commonwealth Stadium and along Scott Street, and replacements of many housing structures, but there is no funding for these projects.

These same people clamour that students are overtaking suburban apartment complexes, trashing them and then clogging traffic commuting in to the university. They also state that there traffic and parking problems near campus due to all the students, thanks to a lack of parking at UK, but are unwilling to bend for a solution.

IMO, going to the private sector to alleviate student housing crises and to invite more students to live closer to downtown, is a wise idea. More students can be served in this manner, and it saves bonding power that the university can use for student-housing replacement projects.

Housing plan angers residents: Developers intend to raze residences, put up student apartments

By Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 25, 2007

Developers would like to convert a deteriorated mobile home park off of S. Broadway and convert the property into a student housing complex.

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Community explores extensive downtown redevelopment opportunity

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, October 22, 2007

The Board of the Downtown Development Authority will hear a presentation today about plans to develop a tax increment financing district -- a tool that allows cities to redevelop extensive areas that have deteriorated.

Harold Tate, President and Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority, said he has been working with Lexington Center and city officials as to the feasibility and appropriate boundaries of such a district. A

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