The conversion from psychiatric care to classroom instruction continues at a site occupied by Bluegrass Community and Technical College. The BCTC campus sits in Lexington, just off Newtown Pike.
BCTC President Augusta Julian says bulldozers are knocking down nearby buildings.
“In the past six weeks, three buildings have been demolished and they’ll continue to demolish the old buildings. That was part of the plan originally from the agreement that we made with the hospital,” said Julian.
Julian says 326 students are currently attending class in the new building. She hopes to see close to a thousand students enrolled for the fall of 2014. However, before construction can begin on additional classroom buildings, she says BCTC needs additional state funding.
“Unfortunately we don’t have other construction funds at this time, so we have a project that will be considered as a part of the budget session in the spring but it’s going to be very challenging to get money for additional buildings at this time,” added Julian.
The site was once home to Eastern State Hospital, which was relocated to a brand new facility, also on Newtown Pike.
Several developments on downtown Lexington’s west side promise to revive the neighborhood. A number of businesses, including restaurants and saloons, have already established homes along Jefferson Street. Mayor Jim Gray believes a critical mass is being established in this section of downtown.
“It becomes a destination and in many respects that’s what Jefferson Street has become. Over the last six years, the table tops have grown from 200 to more than a thousand. That’s what I understand from some of the businesses in the area. That dynamic can continue,” said Gray.
Bulldozer activity continues near the new home of Bluegrass Community and Technical College on Lexington’s west side. In addition, work on several athletic facilities is underway nearby at Transylvania University. Plus, a portion of Fourth Street has re-opened to two-way traffic.
Mayor Jim Gray says city officials are closely monitoring the impact on traffic.
“So this could be viewed actually as a little demonstration project. It was able to be transitioned. It was able to work effectively. It’s working well for the neighborhood. It’s working well for the businesses. It’s working well for BCTC, and it’s not creating enormous congestion,” explained Gray.
For several years, Gray and other Lexington leaders have called for the elimination of many one-way streets. They argue the improved access would be good for downtown business and tourism.