Streetcars in Lexington, Owensboro?

In  his column today, the Herald-Leader’s Tom Eblen takes a look at whether Lexington should consider reviving its streetcar network, a move that apparently has become a trend in Europe and is making its way to the U.S. where decades ago streetcars were a main means of transportation in urban areas.

Eblen reports that LexTran, the city’s transit system, has applied for a $1.2 million matching grant to build what it calls the Downtown Circulator, a motorized trolley system that would run every 10 minutes at lunchtime between Triangle and Thoroughbred parks and at night between downtown and the University of Kentucky campus.

Lexington is not the only Kentucky city at least considering the return of the trolley. 

Part of the downtown master plan being developed for Owensboro by Gateway Planning Group is the re-establishment of Frederica Street as a trolley corridor, with a streetcar running from Wesleyan Park Plaza or beyond to downtown. 

Gateway head Scott Polikov pitched the idea to the community during a week of design workshops in September, but the plan calls for such an initiative to take place years in the future after downtown has been revived as a retail, residential and business center. Continue reading

Lexington’s council moves forward with CentrePointe TIF plan

Beverly Fortune with the Herald-Leader is reporting that the Lexington Urban City Council voted Thursday night to create a development plan for a tax increment financing district around the controversial CentrePointe development in downtown. 

The plan will include a look a what public amenities and projects could be be funded by a TIF district and how much those projects would cost to build. 

Among the projects being considered is a downtown farmers market, which Owensboro officials and members of the community have also pushed for.

Here’s a look at what the Lexington government is considering for the downtown TIF district – 

Master plans vs. developments

Members of the Urban County Council in Fayette County are raising concerns about the lack of influence a downtown master plan appears to have on development in the city’s core.

According to an an article by the Herald-Leader’s Beverly Fortune, council members on Tuesday questioned the head of the city’s Downtown Development Authority about why Lexington’s $500,000 master plan adopted last year didn’t stop the demolition of historic buildings and allowed for the approval of a 35-story hotel and condominium project.

Owensboro and Daviess County have commissioned their own downtown master plan to help guide development, and are looking to that plan to offer some guidance on the development of the Executive Inn Rivermont property as well as the downtown core as a whole.

The plan is being developed by Gateway Planning Group, which will hold community design workshops Sept. 8-12 to solicit input from the public on how downtown should develop.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Owensboro City Commission, city officials backed the drafting and passage of a resolution that would signal the city’s commitment to working with a developer who agrees to work within the downtown master plan and its vision for how that area should develop.

It appears the plan for Owensboro will have some of the same goals as Lexington’s plan, which city officials there described “as a road map expected to play a vital role in downtown’s renaissance.”

But differences between the plans appear to exist as well – Lexington’s plan was paid for by private money, while the city and county governments here have a financial stake in the plan.

It will be interesting to see what provisions, if any, Owensboro’s plan has to remedy any conflicts that arise between the plan’s contents and a developer’s vision, as has happened in Lexington.