Lexington has been approved for up to $45.8 million in infrastructure support for the redevelopment of the city’s historic bourbon corridor.
The Lexington Distillery District is the first project approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority under guidelines for Mixed-Use Redevelopment of a Blighted Area Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIFs encourage economic development by paying back over time a portion of the funds spent on infrastructure improvements. The reimbursement will come from new taxes the development generates.
The project capitalizes on bourbon’s global resurgence by creating a unique destination around two historic distilleries, Lexington’s founding waterway Town Branch and 25 acres of underutilized property.
There already are signs of transformation in the neighborhood. Buster’s Billiards and Backroom recently opened in the Old Tarr Distillery, which originally was built in 1865. Also new to the area are Barrel House Distilling, which produces Pure Blue Vodka; Rezny Fine Art Gallery; jazz and R&B club Manchester’s; Dogtown, a dog daycare and boarding business; and Scream Park, which manufactures theatrical scenery and props. Plans also are being discussed by R.J. Corman Railroad Group for a new dinner train that runs along the district en route to Frankfort.
The goal of the development project is to create a tourism driver that offers experiences such as an interactive bourbon center and an active distillery along with arts and entertainment.