CityPlace ready for first event

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Louisville Chorus, Philharmonia to play dedication concert

After months of work, the new CityPlace center in downtown La Grange will open next weekend with a Dedication Concert featuring the Louisville Philharmonia and Louisville Chorus.

The Sept. 13 show will begin at 7 p.m. and feature joint performances by the two groups, as well as solo performances from each, administrator Karen Greenwell said.

“The concert itself will be a really good mix of pop and other stuff,” she said. “This is not just a La Grange event, it’s an Oldham County, a regional event.”

For months, construction crews have torn down or restored parts of the old Southern States property on First Street and transformed it into City Place, which consists of an open plaza, two pavilions and the visitor’s center, which will house the Rawlings Foundation, the Oldham County Chamber and Discover Downtown La Grange offices. The pavilions and plaza will open with the Sept. 13 concert, while the Visitor’s Center will be open on Sept. 15

The roughly 90-minute concert will serve as the center’s first event. With up to 1,500 people expected for the show, which will feature outdoor seating in the plaza, Greenwell said the foundation is setting up satellite parking areas at La Grange Baptist Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the Rawlings Company in La Grange.

Shuttles will run for one hour before and after the event to and from parking lots Greenwell said. The event will also close down Hwy 53/First Street in La Grange from Main Street to Washington Street from 6 to 10 p.m., she said. Signs will be posted for the extra parking and shuttle locations throughout town, she said.

In order to prevent major traffic right before the event, Greenwell said the foundation is encouraging attendees to come to La Grange early to enjoy the various restaurants, coffee shops and stores in the area.

“It’ll be a nice evening for the family or a date,” she said.

Rosendo Usandizaga, director of the foundation, said the downtown restaurants and stores planned to be open later than normal to accommodate before and after concert foot traffic.

The event is “rain or shine,” Greenwell said. If sunny, the concert will take place outside Pavilion 1, which faces First Street, and seating will be in the Plaza. If it rains, the musicians will perform in Pavilion 2, which can seat up to 600 and remaining guests will be seated up to another 500 in Pavilion 1, with large TVs and audio systems showing the concert.

“People will still be able to enjoy (the concert if it rains),” Usandizaga said.

Usandizaga said the Chorus and Philharmonia would be a “family-friendly” concert, with various styles of music being played. Children and families are welcome, he said.

“I think it will reach everyone, they are very versatile,” he said. “I think people will be surprised at what the orchestra can do.”

For the concert, the foundation is asking attendees to not bring picnic items and seating will be provided. Additionally, City Place is a smoke, drug and alcohol free zone.

And while next Saturday’s concert is the first event, the center’s calendar is already filling up, Greenwell said.

Another concert, called “Songfest” will take place on Sept. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m., she said. That event will feature the St. Stephen’s Baptist Church choir and praise team, as well as music from Pho’s Community Church, Southeast Christian Oldham Campus Church, La Grange Baptist and others. The set-up for the second concert will be similar to this first one, she said.

A ribbon cutting for the center will be held Sept. 24 and the Chamber will host a Business and Biscuits event featuring former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson on Oct. 3.

Another concert around Thanksgiving is also being planned, Greenwell said, as well as talks for statewide conferences.

“So far, these are all Rawlings Foundation-sponsored events,” Greenwell said. “But there’s no limit to things we hope to have here. In order to keep it vital we need people to suggest it to others (for use).”

And no matter the event, the goal of building City Place was to boost the city of La Grange, as well as Oldham County as a whole, Usandizaga said.

“The object is to increase foot traffic and revenue in Oldham County and La Grange,” he said.

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.