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Lexington Looks Underground to Guide Downtown Redevelopment

Town Branch Creek was once the lifeblood of Lexington, Kentucky. Now, more than a century after it was rerouted and buried, city leaders want to resurrect the historic waterway as the focal point of downtown redevelopment.
January 15, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Branden Klayko looks at efforts to focus the redevelopment of Kentucky's second largest city around the daylighting of once forgotten Town Branch Creek, the waterway upon which Lexington's initial settlement, and its famous Bourbon industry, was oriented. "[R]erouted, buried, and forgotten for over a century," an invited competition is now reimagining Town Branch Creek "as a vital asset to downtown and an organizing armature of public space to guide future development around a new sports, arts, and entertainment district," says Klayko.

Credit for the original idea to uncover the waterway goes to Gary Bates, a principal with Norway-based architecture firm Space Group, who was brought on to create a master plan for 62 acres of parking lots and underutilized parcels surrounding the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena. 

"Building on Bates’ master plan, the Lexington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) issued a RFQ to daylight, or uncover, the downtown segment of Town Branch Creek with new pocket parks along its route." And an international colletion of five design teams are now studying the feasibility of Bates' concept and developing detailed proposals.

Following the presentation of each team's concept at a symposium to be held on February 1, "a jury will select a winning proposal and the DDA will award $200,000 to further develop their concept and establish financial feasibility," notes Klayko. "The winning design will eventually be used to bolster public support and help with private fundraising."

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Published on Monday, January 14, 2013 in The Architect's Newspaper
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