Visitors to Lexington Center go there for the shopping and to dine, but would like to see a bigger mix of retail stores and more casual restaurants, according to a survey conducted by Bentley University students this spring.
Coffee shops and the public library are also big draws to the center, but visitors would also like to see some parking improvements and more independent stores, according to the survey results released this week by the Lexington Center Committee.
Bentley University undergraduate students surveyed about 700 people, 89 percent of which were Lexington residents, during a semester-long course that looked at the best suburban downtown practices.
The Lexington Center Committee, chaired by Jerry Michelson of Michelson’s Shoes in the Center, engaged the students in the Integrated Business Project course to look at the town center. Peter Siy, a member of the center committee, is one of the professors for the course.
The students used a 23-question survey to ask about everything from what is good about Lexington Center, to what could be improved, what are the best words to describe the center and what they think is important for a suburban town center to be successful.
About 77 percent of the respondents were women, and 23 percent were men, and a plurality of the respondents, about 41 percent, visited the center two or three times a week, according to the survey results.
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, the top reasons people said they visited the town center were retail shopping, which received and overall score of 3.85, and dining at restaurants, which received a mean score of 3.69 percent. Coffee shops and the library were also big attractions, but visiting doctors or historical sites received the lowest scores of 1.8 and 1.94, respectively.
Visitors ranked a better mix of retail stores and more independent retails stores as the two ways to most improve the overall appeal of Lexington Center, with mean scores of 4.5 and 4.43, respectively, on a scale of 1 to 5. Visitors also said the center could be improved by making parking and traffic management changes, by adding more casual restaurants and extending the evening hours of retail shops.
About 73 percent of the survey respondents suggested that the center needs a bookstore, while 65 percent said suggested specialty foods, 58 percent suggested more women’s clothing stores, and 48 percent suggested a hardware store.
The students also asked respondents what word best describes the center, and the most prominent responses were “many banks,” “friendly,” “historic,” and “charming.”
The Bentley students created a “word cloud” using the descriptors of the square, with the most prominent responses appearing the most prominently in the “word cloud” (see below).