Construction begins on community center in Davis Park

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A new 3,800 square foot community center will be constructed in Davis Park. The community center will be completed by late 2024 and will cost $3 million.

A new 3,800 square foot community center will be constructed in Davis Park. The community center will be completed by late 2024 and will cost $3 million.

Integrity Architecture/LFUCG

Construction has started on a long-awaited community center for a neighborhood displaced during construction of the Newtown Pike connector.

It’s been 25 years in the making.

Davis Park, formerly known as Davis Bottom, sits on Community Land Trust land near the intersection of Oliver Lewis Way, Newtown Pike, Versailles Road and DeRoode Street.

The 3,800 square foot community center will bring a “sense of vitality and resilience. It’s more than a building. It’s a foundation of what Davis Bottom has become,” said Byron Mitchell, a longtime resident and president of the Community Land Trust, during a Wednesday ground-breaking ceremony at Davis Park.

The Community Land Trust was formed more than 25 years ago when the neighborhood was moved as part of construction of the Newtown Pike extension.

Using federal coronavirus relief money, the city set aside $2 million for the new community center. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which oversaw the construction of the Newtown Pike extension, contributed $1 million toward the community center.

In addition to the community center, which will have conference space, a technology center, offices for the Community Land Trust and other amenities, the city is also currently building a long-promised 5-acre park on the site.

The community center will be located between DeRoode, Freedom Land and Oliver Lewis Way.

Ed Holmes, project manager for the Community Land Trust, said in addition to single-family and multi-family affordable housing developments already on the site, more affordable housing is expected in the future. In addition, the group is also hoping for more mixed-use and commercial development.

Mitchell said the long-awaited community center and park will bring a sense of place to the area.

“It’s about transforming our neighborhood where people can live and work and have pride that this is our neighborhood,” Mitchell said of the new community center.

Mayor Linda Gorton, who served 20 years on council before being elected mayor in 2019, said she was a new council member when work began on the Newtown Pike extension.

“It’s been 25 years,” Gorton said. “Even though we still have work to do, we are taking a big step forward today.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Reynolds, who represents the Davis Park area, said she hopes the community center and new park will be a draw for Davis Park residents and all Lexington citizens.

“The folks who live here have been waiting a long time for this,” Reynolds said.

The community center is expected to be completed by late 2024.

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.

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