copyright Bill Widener 2001

Fresh Air

Dear Lissa - I've been meaning to write to you for some time to convey how much I appreciate your column [On the Block]. It's actually the first thing I turn to when I pick up a copy of ACE.

I was especially pleased with this week's piece ("Downtown, Dig?"). In addition to the inane traffic-flow design, downtown is also afflicted with a singular, but effective, impediment to any meaningful entrepreneurial development: greed.

A few months ago, a group of us explored the area for a location to house a "Village Vanguard"-style "listening room" - a spot where folks who really love music, could go to hear great artists performing in a casual, comfortable, smoke-free setting. We couldn't find anything affordable in the downtown area. The few who hold title to most of the property are demanding exhorbitant square-footage rates.The Lexington market is not accustomed to the level of cover charge it would take to partially defray the floorspace expense. More experienced venue owners may correct me on this, but it seems pretty clear that you need to sell an awful lot of liquor in order to make anything approaching a profit. To make a long formula short, after paying the light bills and the band,there's scarcely enough left to compensate a management and staff talented enough to make such an experience consistently enjoyable. In the meantime, the city has just rolled-over and played dead. There are no serious economic incentives that would make it a worthwhile risk to launch something innovative and "cool" in downtown Lexington. But that's going to have to change. This is "not your granddaddy's Lexington." There has been enough of an influx of "new blood" into Lexington from such urban centers as Chicago, San Francisco and New York..people who hunger for a steady diet of the create an entirely new base of support for visionary, energetic...bold...leadership. The "anti-good ole' boy" if you will. In any case, the status quo...representing malaise and torpor...will not do.

Meantime - were I still on the air in this town, I would be knocking down your door to persuade you to share your thoughts with our neighbors and friends.

Please keep raising these issues. The fresh air keeps us from suffocating.

Take care,

Tom Martin

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