Lexington’s Top 20: What’s in store for the roaring 20s?

Lexington’s Top 20: What’s in store for the roaring 20s?

October: a man on his bike

Top 20 for 2020

What’s in store for the roaring 20s in Lexington?



What a difference a decade makes. While the 80s and 90s were boom markets for Lexington, 2008’s economic crash devastated the local economy and led to lingering stagnation well into the early teens. The roaring 20s, on the other hand, are poised to come in like a lion in Lex.


From hotels and movie theaters to brand new developments and expansions, construction will be an ongoing theme throughout Lexington in 2020, and well into the new decade.

City Center

After 11 years, the $220 million downtown development formerly known as CentrePointe will finally come full circle. While three businesses (Jeff Ruby’s, Starbucks and Keeneland Mercantile) have already opened within the City Center, more is on tap for 2020.

a building with City Center on with trees and carsThe 218-room Lexington Marriott City Center and the connecting 119-room extended stay Residence Inn will join the Hyatt and the Hilton as downtown destinations, along with 21C and the redeveloped Sire at Gratz Park for more boutique style options. On top of City Center will be The Infinity: A Skybar and Cafe, the hotels’ signature restaurant featuring a glass wall and retractable roof.

Downtown Cinema

While the Kentucky Theatre is a classic, historic venue that can never be replicated, downtown has never had a multiplex option for movies. The new 10-screen Krikorian movie theater will offer a sports bar, bourbon bar, bowling, arcade and dining options at the corner of High and Broadway. Krikorian Premiere Theatres, a California based company, announced this projected concept for Lexington years ago. Expect to see construction continue on the site in 2020.

Fountains at Palomar

Palomar is preparing for its own version of The Summit at Fritz Farm. The new shopping center development near the intersection of Harrodsburg Road and Man o’ War Boulevard will potentially include a grocery store, several restaurants, and a hotel. Construction has already begun on the site and will continue into 2020.

Romany Road Kroger

Greer Co. and Webb Co. have taken over the long-stagnant former Kroger location on Romany Road. They’re currently soliciting community input as to best uses for the vacant grocery space.

Rupp Arena

In 2018, plans were announced to build and expand the Lexington Convention Center as well as Rupp Arena. The Jefferson Street Bridge was closed and demolished in 2019, re-routing traffic to Oliver Lewis Way. New UK Hospitality Clubs and a remodeled exterior design are part of the new concept. While the bleachers were swapped for seat-back chairs in 2019, the rest of the upgrades and expansion will be completed in phases so that Rupp Arena and the Convention Center can remain open during construction.

Lexington Center President and CEO Bill Owen
Lexington Center President and CEO Bill Owen

What can Lexington expect to see in 2020? “A new 500-vehicle parking structure, new ground level loading docks for Rupp Arena and an elevated service yard and docks for the Exhibit Hall should be completed,” says Richard J. Polk, Jr., Principal at EOP Architects, the architecture and design firm behind the comprehensive renovation of Rupp Arena.

“The new 100,000 square foot Exhibit Hall, the adjacent Prefunction Corridor and High Street Lexington Convention Center entrance should be completed. An all new Central Utility Plant, which heats and cools the entire complex, has just come online and will be fully complete in early 2020. Construction of the Rupp Arena new south façade will be completed while construction on the new Ballroom, LCC Meeting Rooms and Main Street LCC entrance will begin. Demolition of the remainder of the old convention center along Main Street and the old retail/food court between Rupp and the Hyatt will begin in 2020.  This demolition will make room for new Rupp Arena concourse expansions and the LCC Meeting Room Pavilion in 2021.”

Tates Creek High School

School will be out this summer, but that’s when construction on the new Tates Creek High School will begin. The high school, which was built in 1965, hasn’t been renovated since 1993. With renovation projected to cost more than a rebuild, the Fayette County School Board decided to start from scratch.

Town Branch Commons

“Construction will kick-off for the Town Branch Commons project in January 2020,” says project manager Mike Sewell.

October: a man on his bike“With that comes all of the things you would expect from a transportation construction project, namely lane closures. Our design team has tried to be as thoughtful about how the construction project will roll-out to minimize negative impacts to daily commuters and businesses, but as with any project inside the right-of-way, there will still be phases of construction that will no doubt be frustrating. These temporary frustrations during construction though will yield an amazing project that will help to transform Lexington. By the end of 2020, the project will be substantially completed and you will be able to see the pieces coming together.”

“These temporary frustrations during construction though will yield an amazing project that will help to transform Lexington.” 

—Mike Sewell, project manager, Town Branch Commons

In Phase Two, the final plans for the park happen, which include raising an additional $10 million toward the over-all fundraising goal of $31 million. The project is now a third of the way to the $31 million goal in private donations thanks in part to the $1 million donation to help build Town Branch Park from UK women’s basketball head coach, Matthew Mitchell, and wife, Jenna Mitchell.



2020 will be the birth year of many mixed use developments in Lexington from indoor public markets to adaptive reuse projects, all of which aim to build community.

GreyLine Station

For almost 100 years, the former historic Southeast Greyhound Building was home to bus and transit companies, and then sat vacant for decades. Upon opening this year, GreyLine Station will offer retail spaces for businesses and provide a unique experience for its tenants with the hope to bring new commerce and community opportunities to the North End.

“Plans for GreyLine include several new retail spaces on N. Limestone and W. Loudon, which will house North Lime Coffee and Donuts, Nourished Soup and Sandwich, Forage, Lex Community Radio, and rental space for other local businesses, an event space called Clerestory and about 10,000 square feet of office space,” says Chad Needham, owner and developer of GreyLine Station.

“My hope and dreams for the building is to get it rehabbed so it can be the new local marketplace where Northside, Eastside, and downtown residents can find and start new businesses, shop, meet and gather to enjoy food, neighbors, family and friends in a truly local business setting.”

Julietta Market

Located inside GreyLine Station is the Julietta Market. A project that began in 2013, the indoor multi-vendor public market is expected to take shape this summer.

“It’s a place that can be for our neighbors, by our neighbors and about our neighbors,” says Kris Nonn, Executive Director at NoLi CDC. “A place where people can come together, grow their prosperity, support each other, and share their stories… 2020 will see more temporary popup events and programming to continue to build interest and community buy-in leading up to the grand opening of Julietta Market in summer 2020.”


Between Martine’s Pastries, Frank’s Donuts, and Spalding’s, East Third Street is all set for baked goods. A mixed-use development? That’s new in 2020.

Photo by Austin Johnson/ Ace

The MET is a new three-story development named for its location on the corner of Midland and East Third. The new $22 million, 75,000 square foot, mixed-use facility is expected to include a highly-anticipated grocery, restaurant, and retail space, as well as 44 loft apartments. The plan is to bring more job opportunities to the East End through this redevelopment project.

Winslow Project

What does campus need? More parking seems to be the ongoing consensus. Kennedy’s Book Store, which was located on the corner of S. Limestone and Winslow Street since 1950, was demolished to make room for a six-story development with 900 new parking spots. Known as the Winslow Project, the new development will include office, retail and innovation space on the ground floor with plans to open in August 2020.



It’s music to our ears knowing that quite a few music legends and Kentucky natives are making pit stops in Lexington throughout the year.

Concerts at Rupp Arena

Tyler Childers with a guitar singingFrom KISS to Elton John and an appearance from the good lookin’ duo of Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers, Rupp Arena has a busy lineup in 2020. KISS arrives in February, as does the Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers tour, while Elton John brings his Farewell Yellow Brick Road to Rupp in June.

Kroger Field’s First Concert

Down the street at Kroger Field, Chris Stapleton will headline the stadium’s first concert in April along with performances by Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, and Yola.

Railbird Returns

Later in the summer, Railbird Festival will return to the historic grounds of Keeneland on August 22 through August 23.



2019 was a busy year for food news in Lexington, and 2020 is poised to deliver more, with rooftop dining topping the list.

20|20 Rooftop

A new rooftop bar offering an elevated view is coming to the corner of Limestone and Church. The new bar will offer refined cocktails and monthly specialty events among created and owned by the founder and owner of Centro and The Garage, Javier and Aimee Lanza, will open in the spring of 2020 featuring stylish interiors, authentic southern hospitality and unique views of downtown Lexington.


ItalX, a new avant garde Italian restaurant from the dynamic duo of Jonathan Lundy and TJ Cox, is opening this year.

“This Italian concept has been in the making for about five years and I am excited to see it come to life,” says Jonathan Lundy. “Thanks to my partnership with TJ, Lee and our team we are finally prepared to move into a beautiful restaurant space in Lexington’s hottest new development.”

All-Vegan Restaurant

There’s always room for more vegan options in Lexington, and Lucy Jones plans to open her all-vegan diner later this year.


The new multi-purpose event space that doubles as a bar has been resurrected by two women who are dedicated to reopening this N. Limestone staple in 2020.

“Our mission is to provide space in the community to foster local artists, musicians, nonprofits, and businesses to grow through innovative events all while serving great drinks,” says Amber Fuller. “We aim to serve local favorites and incorporate as many minority and female owned items on our menu as we can.”


Addicted to Perfect
Photo by Megan McCardwell/ Ace

Vitale Buford’s upcoming memoir, Addicted to Perfect, details her real and raw journey through an addiction.

“You don’t have to have an Adderall addiction to read this book,” says Buford. “It’s a message of hope, and I hope it inspires [readers] to be vulnerable in their own lives and tell their own story.”

Gone Tomorrow: The Story of Kentucky Ice Climbing

Ice climbing in Kentucky? We’ll have to see it to believe it, but with a special screening at the Kentucky Theatre, now we can. Gone Tomorrow: The Story of Kentucky Ice Climbing is an adventure documentary that takes the audience for a bourbon-fueled ride deep into the bushy hollers of Appalachia with a crew of harmless misfits and a few surprises along the way. The film won’t be available online until 2021, so this special screening event in January is potentially the last chance to see the film again in Kentucky until next year.



This article also appears on page 8 & 9 of the January 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.

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