H&LA’s recent research for a project in Lexington, Kentucky revealed some exciting new hospitality-related developments happening in the area. These developments will have a major impact on tourism, employment, and the general economy in Lexington and the surrounding areas in 2021 and beyond. On-going pandemic concerns may alter timelines for some of these projects.
- A major expansion of the Central Bank Center is now underway that will replace the old convention center and significantly increase the amount of meeting and event space available in downtown Lexington. Groundbreaking on this $241 million project, which included a renovation of the UK Rupp Arena, took place in July 2018. Scheduled for completion in fall 2021, the new Central Bank Center will hold more than 200,000 square feet of building area, with over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, and over 26,000 square feet of meeting space.Two new downtown hotels – the Lexington Marriott City Center and the Residence Inn Lexington City Center – opened near the Central Bank Center in January 2020. Combined, these properties now offer 337 guestrooms, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop restaurant.
- Lexington was recently recognized by Travel & Leisure as one of the top 50 places to visit in 2021. The magazine noted the popularity of the 2020 miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, which was set in the city, as well as the recent redevelopment of the Greyline Station & Market, architecturally significant cultural sites, and new and exciting bourbon distilleries.
- In fall 2020, the University of Kentucky opened a new mixed-use building on the corner of South Limestone and Winslow Street. This project created a 900-space parking structure with a 23,000-square-foot ground-floor space offering a mix of retail and recreation uses. The building now houses the university’s innovative new esports theater with 100 theater-style seats and more than 50 PC-based gaming units. As envisioned, this facility will be part of an emerging corridor of creativity and technology at the university gateway.
- A new entertainment complex called LexLive was recently developed at the corner of High Street and South Broadway in downtown Lexington. This 133,000-square-foot building will feature a 10-screen movie theater, a bowling alley, arcade, sports bar, and multiple dining options. This new attraction was originally scheduled to open in mid-2020; however, the opening was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LexLive is now slated to open in spring 2021.
- A new 16-acre mixed-use development called Fountains at Palomar is under construction at the corner of Harrodsburg Road and Man o’ War Boulevard in southwest Lexington. This project will create more than 33,000 square feet of restaurant space and 26,000 square feet of combined office and retail, with a fountain display that will serve as a focal point and gathering spot. The development will also include a 110-room Hyatt Place hotel, which, when completed, will be the closest hotel to both the Blue Grass Airport and the Keeneland equine complex.