Submitted By: Sharon Myers / The Dispatch
Photo Credit: Donnie Roberts
Uptown Lexington has received a $10,000 grant from ElectriCities of North Carolina to pay for construction designs for the Conrad & Hinkle square at the intersection of Main and Center streets. Rebekah Cansler McGee, executive director of Uptown Lexington, said this newly created grant for clients of ElectriCities is specifically for the revitalization of downtown areas.
“It was just the perfect grant at the right time and fit so well with what we were doing,” McGee said. “Usually you look at a grant and say what can I do to attract that money here, it is not usual that you have a project and then find something that fits it. … It just fit like a puzzle piece; I couldn’t have been more excited.”
Uptown Lexington received permission from Davidson County, which owns all four squares in uptown Lexington, to proceed with the redesign plans for the Conrad & Hinkle square. McGee said Uptown Lexington is working with landscape architects Lynn Raker and Auggie Wong to redesign the Conrad & Hinkle square. Preliminary design features include removal of the shrubs, eliminating curbs, textured brick paving, string lighting and a water feature surrounded by seating.
McGee said the Uptown Lexington board of directors had already budgeted $10,000 to go toward the total cost of $17,000 for the construction plans and survey for the project when she found out about the ElectriCities revitalization grant. She said one of the things that makes this grant so unique is that it permitted submitting requests for pre-construction costs such as surveys and architectural renderings. “A lot of grants won’t help with the pre-costs,” McGee said. “They want to see a completed project, the actual completed construction. But this one had broad parameters and was perfect for the square project.”
McGee said Uptown Lexington will still use the money budgeted toward the construction plans and survey cost, but now has less of a burden to pay for that phase of the project. She said they hope to have the construction documents in place in the next few weeks to determine the total cost of the completion of the project.
McGee said this project will be totally funded by Uptown Lexington and will not use any taxpayer money. She said the organization hopes to apply for several grants as well as to begin a fundraising campaign to complete the project by the fall of 2019. “It is not the largest grant Uptown Lexington has ever received, but it is largest I have ever written that we have received,” McGee said. “Also, it is a brand new grant. It’s always positive to identify a new funding source. I was extremely happy.” McGee said she is excited that the grant from ElectriCities has allowed Uptown Lexington to move forward with the redesign of the square. She said it’s something the community has been contemplating for several years.
“It has been something that has been talked about for over a decade,” McGee said. “We have a vibrant downtown life that has just come up over the last five years. … As it currently stands, (the square) is not as useful as it could be. We have that limited space in downtown, and why can’t we capitalize on what we do have. People aren’t using this square like they should be.”