Work on Lexington downtown revival project starts soon

tflach@thestate.comFebruary 24, 2014 

The demolition of four buildings in mid-March is the first step in a project intended to help revive Lexington’s downtown.

It’s the start on building a plaza, amphitheater and path that town leaders hope will help spur Main Street’s comeback as a retail hub.

“This is the kickoff on the revitalization of downtown,” Mayor Steve MacDougall said Monday.

The improvements are a $15 million project that could take three years to complete. Town leaders are looking at pledging future property tax growth downtown for 15 years to help pay for those improvements.

The area affected is yet to be determined, but it likely will cover sections of Main Street and adjoining roads, officials say. An estimate on the taxes generated for the project is due by late spring.

An amphitheater and plaza would rise on Church Street across from Town Hall while the path would meander through downtown and around the Old Mill Pond nearby.

Downtown merchants are suffering, as steady growth has transformed U.S. 378 into the main retail strip in the town of 18,000 residents.

The amphitheater and plaza would host concerts and events designed to bring crowds of up to 1,000 downtown.

Razing three empty stores and a home will cost slightly less than $100,000, officials said.

Town leaders also are looking at private-public partnerships to bring in new stores and offices on the edge of the three-acre site on which the plaza and amphitheater will rise.

Talks with interested retailers are under way, officials said.

“We’ve got multiple conversations going on with different folks,” town administrator Britt Poole said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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