Jul 052012

With LFUCG approving $2.5 million of local funds for the Rupp Entertainment Zone, the state now will contribute a matching amount to the project. Combined, the $5 million will purchase real estate; pay salaries for a project manager (Frank Butler, $260,000/year) and administration; implement some project studies and site surveys; and do a little design work–but no actual construction on the arena.Total costs for Rupp Zone redevelopment range between $600 million and $1 billion. Here’s what we’d do with the first $2.5 million down payment from the state.

Unfortunately, we are limited. The state has confined the scope of its development funds to the Rupp Arena structure only—and not to any of the other non-Rupp Arena 40 acres included in the Rupp Zone. Here’s how we would deal with that limitation.

The first million dollars will build upon our proposal for spending the city’s $2.5 million portion of the proposed Rupp Entertainment Zone investment: the creation of agricultural Fayette Proud products grown on park land, marketed to the region, and sold at weekly county markets that are open to neighborhood, county and regional private farmers. Of this amount, $100,000 will pay three years rent on the Fayette County Proud ag offices, which to utilize state money, will be located somewhere in Rupp. $700,000 will route into LexTran to design and staff daily free bus routes that leave from Rupp and travel to the Fayette Proud markets located throughout the county. Essentially, this would be an expansion of a type of service LexTran successfully offered during the WEG. Ideally, the money will help also help LexTran experiment with new routes for the 21st century needs. Ideally, on their way to the different weekly markets, routes could run from Rupp through established small-scale commercial corridors and any neighborhood and county parks. Any remaining money from the million dollar state investment will pay for daily “events” (artists, musicians, local theater troupes, middle-school dance clubs, etc.) at the Rupp shuttle drop-off site. Located at the other end of the Fayette Proud markets, such events might provide a wonderful “cap” experience after a full day bussing the county.

With the rest of the state money, $1.5 million, we will heed the advice of Gary Bates, Rupp Zone Master Planner, and slow cook it. We will invest into several local first portfolios, including the city’s Fayette Proud markets.

We have two chief reasons for slow-cooking the Rupp Zone.  First, the task force convened to study Rupp redevelopment issued a poor report that, incredibly, makes no reference to the very serious risks cities and their populace take on when they partner in arena construction. Chilling the fuck out and surveying honestly both benefits and costs seems in order here.

This is especially important considering the fraught nature of contemporary sports capitalism and arena entertainment. As funding models change, as “the game” gets further from the grasp of ordinary fans, it is not a slam dunk that a brand new arena, with little new seating capacity, can pay off the high costs of coaching, recruiting, infrastructure, scheduling, etc. necessary to retain both the UK basketball gold standard and the LFUCG bond rating. We don’t want a gigantic, costly, 20th century dinosaur anchoring down our 21st century downtown.

Jul 042012

Requests better Cheapside representation for local print publications

Below is a public appeal revised from an initial June 25 private email sent to area papers, council reps and county Mayor. The author would like to apologize publicly for the part in the private email where he called the Mayor a pimp when “you marketed yourself well” could have sufficed. He promises to attempt to learn from the experience.

Dear Jim,

In the past two years since North of Center has had a presence at Cheapside Pavilion, the city has moved our distribution rack no less than four times. In each instance, these relocations have further removed NoC from the central “Pavilion” area that the city has spent money to redevelop. And my publication is not alone: Chevy Chaser, Ace and a number of other publications have also been relocated. Currently, we are so far removed from the Pavilion area—on the other side of the Courthouse on a portion of Upper that has little pedestrian traffic—that tourists and residents alike would have no idea from visiting the block that the city has a vibrant print culture. Even the bustling Saturday Farmer’s Market rarely extends out to where we’ve been put. And the results have been clear: since the latest move, our circulation in the area has dropped 50%. Continue reading »

Jul 012012

Planning for 2-way Lex

 By David Shattuck

The $465,000 “Traffic Movement & Revitalization Study” is now underway.  LFUCG gave final approval to the contract with Santec (formerly Entran) in mid-May.  According to its contract, the Santec study will “assess the ability of the Downtown Lexington street system to accommodate current and future year traffic conditions with all existing one-way streets converted to two-way operation.”  More specifically, “The study will help to determine if two-way conversion can reduce driver confusion, increase accessibility to downtown businesses, and moderate vehicle speeds for improved safety.”

One word that can’t be found in the contract for the “Traffic Movement & Revitalization Study” is “revitalization.” Indeed, an oft-repeated word in the contract is “mitigation”—a lessening, moderation—as in mitigating the traffic congestion caused by converting our downtown one-way streets to two-way traffic.  Other “r” words, however, are repeated throughout the contract:  roundabouts, right-of-way purchases, and a relocation of the Transit Center. Continue reading »

Jul 012012

Occupy art

By Clay Wainscott

How much is art worth? This is really a bunch of questions, and sorting them out should make any one of them easier to answer. What art is worth in the market might not be what it’s worth to you, and really only the second has real relevance. The prices we hear about occasionally on the evening news are astronomical and, like the price of an extremely rare baseball card, have everything to do with competitive speculation and almost nothing to do with art. The gigantic prices, for one thing, aren’t real. Chunks of wealth are moved around to satisfy tax accountants and using trademarked art like poker chips provides cover. The art part has suffered unless you like polka dots filled in by grad student apprentices – “no two exactly alike.” Except for the sensational prices there isn’t much to be excited about.

Art galleries one might visit when in a major city use a modified version of this consensus-mimicking mechanism we all succumb to in some degree –wired in you might say. When a prospective client seems to show an interest in a particular piece of art, he or she will be informed in friendly conversational tones concerning prior acceptance by important competitions and famous collectors, and that’s the reason, after all, we want so much for it. In order to buy a piece of art it’s formally necessary to listen attentively to four pounds of fluff recited like statistics in a racing form, and there are some who won’t hold still for it. Markets have their own imperatives, and still the most effective argument for buying a lightning rod for the barn is because your neighbor across the road just bought three, but it gets old.

Art might have real value to you, but chances are you’ll find it in the frame and not in its pedigree. Consider the art from your own neighborhood first of all. For a golden time, just as it’s beginning to gain acceptance, acquiring local art can be a bargain. Having passed through an era of neglect, some local art still exudes the authenticity of having not been made primarily for money. Art produced at genuine personal sacrifice, like the innocence of youth, expresses a sincerity difficult to fake, and that’s something usually lost to commercial success.

Price is another consideration. Art is traditionally handmade, and the value of a unique item from the hand of one individual is hard to gage, representing as it does an individual spirit and years of practice. When you do get to a major city check the prices in the galleries you visit and then try to assess your own reaction to a particular piece of art you find appealing. When you get home find something you like as well and check the price. There are some worldly folk who don’t take local art seriously because the prices are so low. They’re even better if you deal with the artist directly.

Buying a piece of art from a local artist could well be worth your hard earned cash. For one thing with your support they’ll have a chance to get better, and if they stay around you can watch their career develop. You’ll have an early piece. They make their art from the same general world you live in, and if you hang their art in your house you might find connections with others who like the work too. There’s also more of a chance you’ll see something by the same artist in someone else’s home, and it’s another reason to be friends. In any case, any original piece of art you buy now has every chance of attaining a personal worth to you over the years, so that if it becomes fantastically valuable someday, you wouldn’t sell it.