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Public Sees Details of Town Branch Commons Proposal

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Four connected zones would make up Lexington’s Town Branch Commons in a downtown greenspace proposal that was unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday.

Designers from SCAPE/Landscape Architecture are calling the zones:

  • Lexington Hollows, which includes the area behind Rupp Arena
  • Downtown Greenway along Vine Street
  • Karst Commons, encompassing the area around the Kentucky Theater and Lyric Theater
  • Eastern Headwaters, where the Town Branch Creek starts near Midland Avenue

All four areas would incorporate some part of the creek, which currently flows through culverts under most of downtown.
One part of the design proposal would involve converting Vine Street to 2-way traffic, with a walking and biking path in the middle. That's also where parts of the culverts would be exposed, daylighting Town Branch Creek.

“My question to Lexington is, what is the Vine Street of the future? Is it the one that was conceived of in 1950 with the highway running through downtown? Or can we think about it differently and what’s the potential there?” said Kate Orff, principal designer with SCAPE.

The Lexington Hollows part of the project would bring Town Branch to the surface in between the convention center and Rupp Arena. It would also change the Cox Street parking lot into several flat fields of park space and feature a waterfall.

Stan Harvey, who worked on a task force to create the city’s Arena, Arts & Entertainment District, says that idea could be incorporated into current renovation plans for the Lexington Center.

“That was actually the idea of pulling people through and pulling open space and pulling Town Branch and the trail through. [It would] make a big difference to  connect to the rest of downtown to be able to go through there.”

Downtown business owner Art Shechet was among around 75 people who turned out for the meeting at the Downtown Arts Center.

“What I inevitably see is the difficulty in financing the project as a whole, how you would divide it up in terms of developing different pieces of it in different future frameworks,” Shechet said.

Harvey says like the Rupp project, generating money for Town Branch Commons will involve generating wide public interest and exploring all financing options.

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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