For many it has stood as an eyesore for years, but now the old Lexington Mall on Richmond Road-- could be on the verge of a new life.
Neighbors nearby tell us having to look at the boarded up building every day is more than just a nuisance. They say it's a threat to property values and public safety, and they'd welcome just about anything in its place.
"Eyesore" is a word you hear a lot from people who live near the 30-acre ghost town that used to be Lexington Mall. Tammel Warren sees the structure every day from her backyard. "It's kind of been aggravating," Warren said, "because it just looks trashy. There's a lot of rodents that are wandering the neighborhood, and I'm concerned that they're probably coming from that place."
Warren is one of many nearby residents encouraged by the prospect of new development at the site. In a statement given to 27 Newsfirst, a spokesperson for Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry says, "We are aware that there have been serious conversations between private interests and Saul Centers Properties, which owns the site. But we have not been advised as to what plans those private interests might have for the property."
Local homeowner Ashley Walton says she isn't picky. "Almost anything is better than what we have right now," Walton said.
Walton adds the old mall may drive away prospective home buyers from the neighborhood. "It just seems to have a potential to be a gathering place if left vacant, for activity that you wouldn't want going on in your backyard."
Homeowners aren't the only ones concerned, Applebee's is one of the few new businesses in the area, virtually alone in the huge space. The company that owns it tells 27 Newsfirst it would welcome meaningful development. Now the promise of just that has the neighborhood keeping its collective fingers crossed. "It's so big. I mean, you could have a lot of stuff in that building, on that property that would benefit not only this community, but I think the Lexington community at large," Warren said.
27 Newsfirst spoke briefly to the Maryland-based company that owns the property, but for now they won't say what, if any plans they have in store for the facility.
The last store closed in 2005. Since then, several ideas for redevelopment have been floated, but so far none have materialized.