Changes coming to State Street


Students gather on University Avenue during a student celebration after Kentucky football defeated No. 10 Florida on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Audrey Simpson

Katie Meek, a UK senior majoring in integrated strategic communication, has appreciated the culture of State Street for two years, but facing new construction and demolition, she now wonders what her street will become.

“Going back to my house … it’s probably going to be a parking lot,” Meek said. “It’s not going to have that same atmosphere at all.”

In May, UK announced its plans to expand the Markey Cancer Center due to a 34% increase in outpatient clinic visits in the last five years. The expansion plans include demolition of homes on University Avenue, State Street and Conn Terrace.

“My initial thought when I found out the plans for the cancer center was, ‘where are all the people that live on these blocks now going to go?’” Meek said.

Meek is also concerned about the logistics of travel once the cancer center is developed.

“I see the cancer center possibly increasing or disrupting traffic on Nicholasville [Road], which is already a busy road,” Meek said. “I’m curious on the parking situation because these streets are free to park on, so it displaces some of the healthcare workers that park on the street.”

A July WKYT article reported that most of the 50 properties to be removed are owned by local proprietors, who rent them out to students. Many residents, like Meek, have occupied these properties for multiple years.

“I do not have any regrets about living on State,” Meek said. “I have been able to live with five of my best friends for two years in a great location.”

According to the estimated expansion timeline, the current properties will be appraised and purchased by December 2022. The appraisal process started months ago; WKYT reported that UK sent letters to landowners in April to purchase the properties. However, current residents did not receive official notice until last month.

“I have not heard much about it other than what my landlord has told us,” Meek said.

Despite this importance, many wonder how the development will affect the surrounding residential area. Meek said the demolition would take away the culture of State Street for students who currently attend the university.

“It’s taking away a lot of what people love about UK,” Meek said. “Demolishing almost a fourth of the housing over there … it’s just going to take away from the whole idea of people going to State Street.”

State Street and University Avenue have been the epicenter of celebrations for UK fans and students after wins by one of UK’s sports teams. With new construction underway and fewer properties on the street, the tradition of racing to State Street after a winning game is going to look significantly different.

“My favorite part about State Street was freshman year beating Florida, and in the rain, we ran there. I remember saying, ‘I want to live here,’” Meek said. “This year, my senior year, when we beat Florida at home, it further solidified why I love State Street and UK.”

However, Meek explained that these changes will affect her day-to-day life as well given the current atmosphere of the street.

“I enjoy that there is always something going on,” Meek said. “I like hearing people and music and the action of the hospital. I also really enjoy the location to my classes on campus.”