Shop owners say Rupp renovation presents uncertain future

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Monday's unveiling of renovation plans for Rupp Arena brought out a lot of excitement. For some though, the emotion is fear.

"It's scary because we just don't know how to plan for the future," says Lafayette Galleries owner Sidney Leeds Barrett. Lafayette Galleries first opened their doors in Lexington Center in 1976. In the video showing how Rupp Arena will be transformed, you see part of the building where her shop is disappear. She says no one has talked to her or the other business owners about where they'll go.

"We just don't know what's going to take place and that's the frustration in all this," Barrett says.

A representative with Mayor Jim Gray's office says there will be plenty of new retail space for the shops to move in to at the base of the Hyatt and along Main Street. The representative does tell us it's still too early to know how much the rent will be.

"We haven't heard anything from the mayor as to what's going to happen to the merchants here and whether there will be jobs lost. Will stores have to close because they can't afford the new rent in the private sector?," says Barrett.

The mayor's spokesperson says they'll be talking with shop owners in the near future.

The project will cost an estimated $310 million. Governor Steve Beshear has included $65 million worth of bonds for the project in his proposed budget, but the plan for the rest of the funding remains to be seen.

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