This WFDD story caught my ear because I covered the furniture industry back in the late ’90s-early 2000s and was witness to the decline of Lexington Home Brands. The plant was unique because it sat right on the edge of downtown, and when it was finally shuttered after a last-ditch attempt at employee ownership, the City of Lexington decided to step in and buy the iconic building in hopes of redeveloping it.

Lexington City Manager Alan Carson insists the Dec. 19 fire is not a setback to those redevelopment plans:

The historic plant is not just a link back to the city’s manufacturing past, but a linchpin to a different kind of future. The city bought the property for just over a million dollars in 2006 with plans to build an entertainment area known as the Depot District.

Almost all of what burned was likely headed for demolition anyway. The city was hoping to take a piecemeal approach, taking down parts of the building while working on developing other parts of the plan.

But that long-term goal now becomes a short term problem, with the city having to find the time – and money – to demolish what’s left standing and haul off the debris.

”Nobody prefers having a scab ripped off,” Carson says. “But sometimes it has the ability to heal a little bit quicker and you can kind of see what it’s going to look like.”

An amphitheater and Bull City Ciderworks, key pieces of the development already in place, were not damaged. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze.