New design studio opens in downtown Winchester

Published 7:20 pm Saturday, July 20, 2019

By Nacogdoches Miller

Sun Intern

The Winchester Design Studio hosted a soft opening for business owners and entrepreneurs to brainstorm and network about future projects they would like to see come to downtown Winchester to promote more active community involvement.

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The event was held Thursday at the design studio, 11 S. Main St.

The Winchester Design Studio is a partnership between several University of Kentucky organizations including the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) College of Design, Small Business Development Center as well as Main Street Winchester (MSW).

Rachel Alexander, executive director of MSW, said the new building would be used for workshops, community outreach and classes from the College of Design.

“We’re going to be working with entrepreneurs,” Alexander said. “We’re going to be working with existing business and the community itself, so it’s not all business-focused it’s also community-focused.”

She said she also thinks it will “bring its own energy” and “fresh ideas,” with the help of UK students.

“I would love if it helped us with business retention and we were able to fill some of the gaps of the things our downtown businesses are looking for,” Alexander said.

Alexander said she is excited to see this come together and start moving forward.

Alison Davis, a professor at UK and the director of CEDIK, said they have already started working on a project that won the “bracket challenge,” in the spring, which allowed people to vote on projects they wanted to see come to Winchester by donating goods to different organizations.

The project most voted on was a shade canopy for the high side of Main Street.

“A lot of times we focus on just the Main Street, and we ensure that our storefronts look good are streets are walkable, and a lot of times we neglect alleys and alleys can be really kind of interesting spaces,” Davison said.

From art to a place to relax, she said alleys have a lot of potential for character.

She said Winchester’s momentum has them hopeful to test how a design studio will do in a rural community.

“We think if it’s not going to work here, then it’s not going to work anywhere,” Davison said.

The meet and greet mingle consisted of a short briefing of what the design studio is as well as an invitation to attendees to think about things they would like to see in Winchester.

The design studio’s grand opening will be next month on Aug. 23 during Winchester’s Sip and Stroll event.

Peggy McAllister, owner of Bee & Clover Renovations and Bee & Clover properties of Winchester, said she hopes this partnership will get people more involved with the downtown area. She said there are always things people can do to get people involved whether it’s with art or adding food truck events.

“Getting other people involved, the community all involved in downtown things by having fun things going on down here, I think that will be a way to draw people in,” McAllister said.