Witt: Pondering the future of downtown properties

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

There’s a large piece of vacant property in the heart of downtown Winchester, and will soon be another directly across the street, perhaps two.

The property that is currently vacant is the former BB&T bank property (People’s Commercial Bank before) on the southeast corner of Broadway and Maple. BB&T has moved its operations to its facility on the Bypass.

The piece of property which may be vacant in the not too distant future is the CVS pharmacy, which will, if their plans come to fruition, move to the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and Maple Street, now the site of Kentucky Bank, formerly the Clark County Bank, which once was located on the high side of Main Street, directly across from Court Street.

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Well, what all this signifies is that businesses seem to be constantly moving and changing premises as conditions require.

CVS is now where once was the Kroger store, and the Kentucky Bank occupies space where once existed a church (Fairfax Church of Christ) and a residence. And the old People’s Commercial Bank (the now closed BB&T) once occupied the space where Eklectic Alchemy now makes its home.

Another space which may very soon be vacant is the southwest corner of Maple and Broadway, the building of a former cleaner that is now used by the Industrial Authority, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Commission, three entities which may eventually be moving into the Sphar Building at Depot Street and Main, formerly a seed company.

While this short history of building locations in Winchester may be interesting and certainly confusing, the real point of all this is that there are three very valuable pieces of property in the middle of the city which will, at some point, become available for some other enterprises.

The BB&T property is approximately 24,500 square feet, CVS approximately 33,600 square feet and the IA-TC-CC property approximately 5,000 square feet, and each of these, with or without the existing buildings, would make ideal locations, with high visibility, for some future business.

It is unfortunate all these properties face vacancy, but the relocations from two of these will guarantee the viability of other properties downtown.

So here’s a suggestion.

One of the things people in Winchester are constantly discussing is the possibility of having a really good restaurant here. This should not be taken as a criticism of the restaurants already here — and the arrival of Steak and Shake is anxiously awaited — but many have looked forward to the type of restaurant that would replace the Old South Inn or the restaurant that once occupied a place in the Brown Procter hotel, a place which would draw patrons from afar.

Even if it isn’t possible to develop a nice sit-down restaurant peculiar to Winchester — like the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Columbia’s in Lexington or Claudia Sanders in Shelbyville — perhaps a national chain could locate here.

Many people would love to see a Cracker Barrel here. That chain has already confirmed that, with restaurants in eastern Lexington and in Mount Sterling, Winchester is not a prime site for it. Nor would Cracker Barrel ever be likely to locate so far from an interstate interchange.

Of course, Hall’s is a strong draw for Clark County, but an added advantage to having a nice restaurant in the downtown area would be the ability to enjoy a casual dinner before attending a production at Leed’s.

Just a thought.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.