A developer says the high rise he would like to put up in Lexington requires that all the buildings along Main Street from Limestone to Upper be torn down, but he faces a vocal opposition.
Janie-Rice Brother told her audience at the Kentucky Theater today, "We have many blocks in Lexington that serve as grim reminders of the mistakes of past decades. Urban renewal was not kind to Lexington."
With that pronouncement, a veritable pep rally for preservation was under way. The audience heard from people who live and work downtown and from some who have already successfully integrated old buildings into new ones. There were some angry voices and some more moderate.
The event's emcee, Leslie Beatty, said, "We are not anti-building. We just think maybe we could work together to save some of the buildings that already exist."
If there were ever any question regarding the proposed development, that question was answered by the standing room only crowd that gathered in the theater.
Hayward Wilkirson, the founding director of Preserve Lexington told 27 NEWSFIRST, "We've received emails from thousands of people but to look at the back of the theater and see we had people in the aisles and people in the front row sitting on the floor, it just overwhelmed me. I was speechless."
The big crowd watched a movie about people's memories of downtown, and Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who is proposing an international design competition for the high rise project, thanked developer Dudley Webb for what he called entering the lion's den to attend the meeting, but afterward we asked Webb if he had seen or heard anything that might change his position that all the existing buildings on that block must go.
He quickly replied, "Not really, and the people I've talked to, many of whom are in this group here today, we tried to incorporate all the ideas they had, subterranean parking, no more parking garages, streetscape friendly for people, and we're still intent on addressing those needs and issues."
But Mr. Wilkirson and the preservationists were still hopeful. He said, "I think we have a great chance to all work together for the kind of win - win situation we've been talking about all along."