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City Leaders Waiting on Report to Plan Next Moves for Distillery District

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A feasibility study of Lexington’s Distillery District will be completed in coming weeks, giving the Urban County Council a better idea of what steps need to be taken in the ongoing development of Manchester Street. For several years the city has discussed revitalizing the blighted area just west of downtown, but the economic recession and other issues put plans for a new streetscape design and sewer improvements on hold.

Developer Barry McNees, who represents more than 30 people who have made $11 million in  private investment in the Distillery District, says Lexington needs to step up in order to generate more economic growth for the area.

“We’ve gone ahead and done things that I think in another city, that everyone would stay on the sidelines and wait for the city to do something before they would jump in with private money. However, we’ve jumped in, we believe in the project.”

Manchester Street, which runs alongside the Town Branch Creek, was once the primary corridor for Lexington’s bourbon industry and home to the James E. Pepper Distillery. McNees says the historic area could attract restaurants and possibly a hotel if more action is taken by the city.

Lexington Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen says it’s taken longer for the city to get involved because of issues surrounding a flood plain, sanitary sewers, and other infrastructure needs.

“These are all big investments that take a lot of good thought in terms of how do we make sure we’re getting every stage in there in terms of the planning, so that we can really carry it through and carry it out.”

Paulsen told members of the Urban County Council Tuesday that a report on the Distillery District, paid for through $500,000 in city bonding,  should be ready by March or April.

Lexington native Brenna Angel anchored local morning newscasts for WUKY through May 13. She joined the station in March 2010 after previously working for WHAS-AM in Louisville.
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