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Considerations for Downtown Cinema

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Movies are fun. They're nice, temporary escapes from reality that help us recharge our batteries, and the really good ones leave us with ideas to ponder and conversation pieces to share amongst friends. It's hard to vote against movies.

That said, the recent news that Lexington is considering proposals from large-scale entertainment companies is slightly troubling. Not that everything has to be local, but we are on a rather nice role lately of successful local business ventures, generally located in the downtown area. With the proposals involving a scale grand enough to include six theatres and other amenities (like a bowling alley and a restaurant), this is no small roll of the dice.

If it ultimately fails, it will be a huge and empty reminder of how we never seem to learn from our past development mistakes. Festival Market anyone? CentrePoint? It may be slightly narrow minded to prefer smaller ventures, but size seems to be a factor in determining ultimate success in downtown Lexington. There is nothing quaint about big. There is nothing charming about big. And as recent past suggests, there is also nothing sustainable about big when it comes to downtown businesses. Does Rupp Arena attract anyone from our largely suburban population on a daily basis? Yet there are now numerous shops, bars, and restaurants contributing to our quality of life standard, one reasonably-sized (and often historical) building at a time.

While if the movieplex idea succeeds, that will mean more auto traffic downtown, which seems at odds with all of the pedestrian- and bike-friendly initiatives that have enjoyed some success in the past few years. Not a huge deal, but definitely worth considering.

Perhaps this colossal movie house is a wonderful idea. There are definitely some positives to be imagined along with the negatives. And as with all development, execution is a key component. Which side do you support?