Driving around Lexington, I was continually reminded of Malvina Reynolds‘ song Little Boxes (Download little_boxes.wav). It’s the theme song from Weeds which is how I discovered the tune. It started up in my head everytime I headed out from Mom’s house and I couldn’t make it stop.
Lexington could be the poster child for the building boom. The market is soft there, like other areas. Unlike other areas, almost all these new houses are filled with people, not sitting empty like a hat on its block in a store. This picture is repeated over and over and over again. Ad nauseum. New houses everywhere.
Where did all these people live before? The only population figures I could find say population has increased less than 3% since 2000. On the other hand, despite a softening real estate market, Lexington is a prosperous city.
As Jal pointed out, they still make things there. There
are two auto plants, at least two machine manufacturing plants and a paper mill.
That’s just what I know of without doing any research.
Lexington is built in a circle. When I was in high school 100 years ago, they finished building a by-pass around Lexington called New Circle Road, or "Circle 4" as the locals call it. In the late 80’s, they finished Man-O-War Blvd which is the bypass around the bypass. It’s about 2 miles outside Circle 4.
The last time I was in town, about four years ago, this two-mile patch was countryside. Now it’s completely filled in with houses and shopping centers. Which extend outside Man-O-War, by the way. If things continue on this track, they are going to need a new bypass around the new bypass in the next couple of years.
There are shopping centers everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And they are HUGE. One of them, called "Hamburg", there are at least 50 restaurants. FIFTY. To accommodate the shoppers in the at least twice as many stores. And that’s just in one shopping center.
Mom says a couple of weeks ago, the Lexington Herald-Leader printed up a wish list for its fair city. It consisted of a list of stores, like Crate & Barrel, that Lexington didn’t have yet, but, apparently, desperately needs. That’s a city’s wish list? Scary. Lexington doesn’t need anymore stores. The number of stores and the number of people shopping in them was
mind-boggling. I was open-mouthed most of the time I was there.
Then there is the Gold’s Gym where Jal and I worked out. It had everything, including a Cardio Cinema. At least 40 treadmills, 20-30 of every other kind of aerobic machine and three of every kind of weight machine available today. Unbelievable. The place was always empty, which they bragged about: you can always get your workout done without waiting. Get this: the gym in the photo is the little one… At the other one, you can get botox and massages and peels. And More of Everything. In Lexington, more is clearly better.
They wouldn’t believe it in Costa Rica.
As prosperous as it is, it’s still a middle-class city, a city of families and long ties. Most of my friends (and family) that I grew up with still live there or near there. Everyone is prospering, living comfortably. But it’s not a rich city. Like Naples where we are today. In KY, people drive nice comfortable cars. In Naples, they drive luxury cars. Jal says Lexington is where you go to make your money. Naples is where you go when you have your money.
Neither place appeals to me: nice places to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I only go for the food and the family. Looking forward to being in Key West later today for the friends and the sushi. And the heat… In KY, we kept asking Mom to turn up the heat. Here, we keep asking Joni (Jal’s mom) to turn up the ac. Dressing down… more soon!