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Letter to the editor

Investment Editor, The Sun: Much has and will be continued to be written and discussed regarding the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. My thoughts were solidified after reading a Facebook post by Citizens for Sustainable Community Growth. The post linked to an article by F. Kaid Benfield titled “It’s a Trend: More Businesses Are Choosing Downtowns and Walkable Locations,” originally published online at huffingtonpost.com. The article reports the increasing number of businesses choosing to locate in a downtown with walkable locations, in part to attract millennials who prefer to be less car-dependent and enjoy a more urban lifestyle. If urban amenities are available, entrepreneurs in increasing numbers are choosing to set up shop in previously disinvested downtowns. That’s a big if when it comes to Versailles, as those amenities are not presently available. However, I believe we have the local leadership, commitment and resources to construct a plan to make our downtown a destination and not a bottleneck on the way to someplace else. The completion of the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor will simply get the wrong traffic out of downtown and allow in the traffic needed to sustain an urban center. The mayor and the Versailles City Council have displayed their vision for Versailles by initiating the study for a downtown pavilion. Construction and implementation could be more easily justified if the downtown was free of commercial trucks that clog the streets. The result would allow restaurant and retail entrepreneurs to visualize an inviting downtown anchored by a community pavilion that would provide a venue for events and a motivation to come downtown. Once downtown Versailles starts to recreate itself as a destination with amenities such as entertainment and increased dining options, then developers can begin to leverage off these amenities and justify the construction of downtown housing. Downtown housing will lead to less urban sprawl and less encroachment upon the farmland that is such a part of our identity. Urban housing will lead to even more entrepreneurial capital being invested in more diversified retail and create opportunities to attract office and knowledge workers. Versailles has a strong sense of community and if any town in Central Kentucky can revitalize its downtown, Versailles can. However, we have to create an environment that is attractive to investors. Capital will go where capital will grow. The Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor is the correct first step. John E. Soper III, Chair Woodford County Economic Development Authority

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