Historic Downtown

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Lowertown Arts

>> Click here to learn more about the businesses and attractions in the LowerTown Arts Districts.


Steve Doolittle,
Paducah Riverfront Development Authority Director

e. [email protected]
p. 270.444.5166



Message from US Senator Mitch McConnell

“The next generation is really why we’re here today…the riverfront is the one common neighborhood for everyone in this area…the one neighborhood that everyone shares is the river, because after all, that is how Paducah got here. This great old river is replete with history of the United States of America; it brought the pioneers and then brought the commerce as the most important inland waterway of America. The reason we’re here in the first place is this wonderful, magnificent, river. I want to help this community enhance the river experience so that this one common neighborhood that everyone shares will be a place to come and enjoy yourself for years and years to come…and over the next few years, I hope to help you realize your aspirations for your riverfront.”

–US Senator Mitch McConnell
From a presentation on Paducah’s Riverfront

The Renaissance Area Master Plan

Paducah‘s Riverfront Plan is just a part of the Renaissance Area Master Plan (R.A.M.P.). The plan to continue developing a thriving and inviting Renaissance Area. The Renaissance Area Master Plan (R.A.M.P.) will provide visitors and residents with pedestrian-friendly streets, beautiful streetscape and attractive signage. The plan will make Paducah‘s historic downtown, the LowerTown Arts District and the Riverfront a welcoming venue for everyone to enjoy.

There are 11 elements in the R.A.M.P.

1. Development of a Unified Brand. The plan will help establish an image for the entire Renaissance Area. Each section of the Renaissance Area–downtown, LowerTown, and the Riverfront–possesses a personality and attractions that make them stand out from other arts & entertainment districts in the region. A unified brand will help visitors understand all that Paducah‘s Renaissance Area has to offer.

2. Tourist Traffic Flow. The plan will focus on how visitors navigate through the district. The plan will investigate user-friendly parking options, attractive landscape and signage, as well as the value of Paducah‘s current way-finding tools. The plan will also evaluate the ease of transit in the Renaissance Area and will provide recommendations on making the district easier for visitors to find their way through the historic district.

3. Development of Unified Streetscape Plan. The plan will evaluate the current streetscape in the Renaissance Area. It will also analyze the connectivity between the three components of the district–downtown, LowerTown, and the Riverfront. A proposed primary pedestrian walking route will be presented with possible ancillary paths, as well. Artists living in the district will be involved in the discussion on public art and sculptural elements that may be appropriate for the district. These may be utilized in the form of a sculpture walk or another creative way to help guide visitors through the district. The plan will include benches, tree guards, and possibly bicycle racks that will enhance the history and character of the district. The plan will propose a variety of special features which will be attractive and useful to visitors.

4. Develop a Strategy to Promote and Market Specific Places of Historical Interest. The plan will include a proposed strategic approach to marketing the historical aspects of the Renaissance Area. It will evaluate current attractions and create a plan that will effectively promote those assets to visitors in the district.

5. Develop a Strategy to Recruit District-Appropriate Businesses and Retain Artists in the LowerTown Arts District. The plan will identify strengths and weaknesses of the market, focusing on retailers that have the potential to thrive under these conditions. The plan will provide a recommendation for how to identify and effectively target businesses and artists that have the potential for being successful in the district. Current market studies will be analyzed, including an ERA study that was conducted to evaluate Paducah‘s historic downtown. Current retailers and artists will provide input in this process, providing information on the impact of tourism to their business. Input will also be received on the seasonality of the impact of tourists. The  plan will evaluate and identify entrepreneurial ventures with high potential for success in the Renaissance Area. A recommendation will be provided for what locations in the district will be the best fit for such businesses. 

The current Artist Relocation Program will be evaluated. A recommendation for improving or refining the program to best meet the needs of artists and arts-related businesses which the program seeks to attract to Paducah‘s Renaissance Area. Artists who have participated in this program will provide input on ways to overcome current challenges artists face in the district and ideas for growing the program.

6.  Provide a Plan for the Future Use and Preservation of the Market House. The historic Market House is one of Paducah‘s most precious assets. It is truly a focal point for Paducah‘s historic downtown. The anticipated relocation of the Market House Museum presents a new challenge for the community. The building is highly valued for its historic integrity and the plan will provide insight into effective reuse of the building. The plan will assess potential reuses for the space based on the constraints that the size and configuration of the building present. The recommendation will take into consideration the strengths and limitations that the space presents. The evaluation will consider the external needs of the building (e.g. access/loading, etc.). It will consider the impact each business would have on the community, as well as the market reach and physical impact of the building itself. Financing options will be evaluated including Historic Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits.  Recommendations for reuse of the building will result in a realistic redevelopment plan.

7. Evaluation of the Area Around the Future Paducah Art School for a Campus-Style Use. The relocation and expansion of the Paducah Arts School provides an opportunity for development of an under-developed part of the LowerTown Arts District. Input will be provided by the college and the Paducah Riverfront Development Authority (PRDA) in order to identify potential complementary and ancillary uses related to the art school. After a review of anticipated demographics and growth the plan will provide a recommendation on parking, student housing and other related uses. The plan will provide recommendations on developing connectivity from the art school to the heart of LowerTown. The railroad bed will be evaluated as a potential pedestrian and bicycle corridor. The plan will evaluate whether this can be integrated into a larger, unified pedestrian circulation system.

8. Generate a Parking Study of the Renaissance Area. The plan will analyze existing parking to determine where needs are being unmet in this area. The plan will evaluate the parking needs that will be presented by the development of the riverfront park, as outlined in the Riverfront Development Plan. The future expansion of the River Heritage Museum and the relocated Market House Museum will also be included in this evaluation. A parking strategy will be recommended and will consider other strategic elements of the R.A.M.P. The plan will help improve the potential use of new and/or improved public transit options, as well as a pedestrian-friendly Renaissance Area.

9. Develop a Market Strategy for the Renaissance Area. The R.A.M.P. will provide connectivity between LowerTown, Paducah’s historic downtown, and the Riverfront. The target market for this destination covers four states, including 42 counties. The plan will be tailored to attract cultural and heritage tourist visitors, and will capitalize on the strengths and assets of each of the three areas within the Renaissance Area in order to achieve this. The market strategy will focus on increasing visitor spending and increased length of stay in Paducah. Tourism and downtown development stakeholders will provide input in this process. The current flow of visitors will be analyzed and a review of marketing strategies used by other multi-state tourist areas will provide insight into this plan. The plan will identify opportunities for strengthening and growing the cultural heritage tourist market in Paducah. Recommendations for a marketing strategy to reach heritage tourists will be produced.

10. Highway to Downtown Wayfinding. The current wayfinding system from I-24 to the Renaissance Area will be evaluated. The plan will identify holes in the system and will provide recommendations for providing a more effective method of drawing visitors from the two main east and west Paducah access exits into the Renaissance Area. The plan will evaluate ways to produce wayfinding that highlights both the character of the district and the arts-focus of the community. The wayfinding plan will provide branding for the district, which will then allow the visitor to have a sense of the creative spirit that lives in the Renaissance Area.

11. Identification and Evaluation of Short and Long Term Development Opportunities. The plan will address both short and long-timer development opportunities. The recommendation will consider future needs of the community and will identify appropriate improvements for the continued development of the Renaissance Area. Potential development areas may include those suggested in the Riverfront Development Plan.

About the Paducah Riverfront Plan

The final Riverfront Redevelopment Plan represents a synthesis of community, stakeholder, river industry and city input and sets forth a single vision guiding future planning and development efforts along the heart of Paducah’s downtown riverfront incorporated along their downtown Riverfront Park. The plan identifies and addresses opportunities related to the following:

  • The provision of new and improved facilities for commercial and recreational boating
  • Improved physical and visual access to the riverfront
  • Enhancement and expansion of riverfront open space, and multi-recreational trail opportunities
  • Increased downtown housing combined with commercial/retail and civic activities