Update the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance
The creation of the Adaptive Reuse provisions in the Wholesale Warehouse (B-4) and Light Industrial (I-1) zones was a boon to Lexington’s economy. Adaptive reuse projects were typically located in areas where the original land uses were no longer desirable because of their lack of proximity to major travel corridors. Many of these older industrial areas are also located very close to well established neighborhoods, because housing within walking distance of these major employers was highly desirable. Over time, some of these places were long forgotten by the public and written off as “old industrial areas”, or worse, perceived to be vacant brownfields or blighted areas that residents feared to drive through. However, there were others who had a vision for renovation and reinvigoration, but they were hampered by the zoning requirements at the time, especially because of onerous suburban parking provisions that would otherwise have led to the demolition of existing buildings simply to provide for more surface parking. The Adaptive Reuse provisions have allowed underutilized areas to find new life as retail, residential and commercial space, softening the blow to the local economy by relatively quickly returning that land to productive and desirable land uses.
The Zoning Ordinance was modified in 2006 to permit industrial mixed-use projects to implement a concept and recommendation of the Newtown Pike Extension Corridor Plan, which was adopted by the Planning Commission in 2002. The adaptive reuse provisions were later adopted in 2008, as a logical progression of that concept, which allowed for the creation of the Distillery District and, later, the West SIxth Brewery. Both projects sparked a redevelopment along their respective corridors that continues today.
While the enabling ordinance for these projects has clearly been successful, some adaptive reuse projects have also created unintended consequences that are not being adequately addressed through the development plan process, specifically nuisance issues for neighboring properties and a lack of quality pedestrian improvements in the corridors to encourage alternatives for people to access these popular areas. Like any good regulating document, the Ordinance should be periodically reviewed to ensure that the community’s desired outcomes are being met. The Zoning Ordinance--specifically the locational and project criteria, the list of permitted uses, and the parking requirements--should be reviewed and updated to account for the subsequent policy shifts of the last two comprehensive plans.
- Update the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance.