Mike Davenport may be the capital city’s biggest cheerleader.
Driving around Franklin County, it’s difficult to find a project that Davenport hasn’t had a hand in. Whether building residential developments, office condominiums, an industrial building or professional office park, the self-made Frankfort man has repeatedly said “yes” when it comes to the betterment of the city.
In 1993, when Frankfort Regional Medical Center came calling to ask him to develop land near the hospital for doctors and professionals to live, Davenport said “yes” and subdivisions sprung up.
When asked by county leaders to construct a road linking the hospital with Cardwell Lane, Davenport jumped at the chance, said “yes” and C. Michael Davenport Boulevard was paved. Prevention Park, featuring offices, child care, adult daycare, YMCA, a chapel and L.I.F.E. House for Animals, soon followed.
“I do these things because I love Frankfort,” he explained, sitting in his Jeep outside of the entrance gate to The Chandler, his latest residential development. “All this is my sandbox.”
In an effort to create jobs in the community, Davenport erected an industrial building without a buyer in mind. It worked. Manufacturer Greenheck Fan Corp. moved into the Hoover Boulevard building 22 years ago.
“A lot of my career has been creating jobs — it’s a healthy way to build a community,” he remarked. “I’ve always felt I can accomplish more for my community through entrepreneurship.”
Born and raised in Frankfort, Davenport rode his bicycle to and from his family’s home in Tierra Linda 3 to Franklin County High School, where he graduated as a junior with the Class of 1975. He then attended vocational school in Lexington, where he focused on electronics.
By 18, he had acquired his real estate license — becoming the youngest person in Kentucky to do so. One year later, Davenport bought his first house and at age 21, he purchased his first vacant lot. He took out his first construction loan at 23.
“I consider myself embarrassingly uneducated,” he said.
In the meantime, he also earned his broker’s and auctioneer’s licenses, while working two to three jobs at a time.
“If you want something bad enough, you’ll work for it,” Davenport stated, adding that loss of work ethic is one of the current problems with society.
He got his most fun and exciting job at LEX18, where he loaded videotapes. Davenport also worked at General Telephone and Electronics Corporation (GTE) until the 1993 buyout, which is when he branched out on his own.
It was a year later, when a 36-year-old Davenport finally agreed to meet a lady that two women at the planning and zoning office had been trying to set him up with for two years.
“One day I slipped by and something just clicked,” he said, of meeting his future wife, Kimberly. “I called her that afternoon to see if she wanted to have dinner and she said, ‘No.’ Then, there was a long pause and she said, ‘I have a golf lesson.’”
In October 1995, Davenport proposed to her by taking out a full-page ad in The State Journal.
“I knew she’d see it,” he added. “She’d never miss a Sunday newspaper.”
Despite his many accomplishments throughout his career, Davenport considers his family, including 16-year-old son, Chamberlain, and 13-year-old daughter, Chandler, his best.
His latest project, The Chandler, which bears his teenage daughter’s name, is a gated residential development just south of Prevention Park on Cardwell Lane. Every little touch in the neighborhood, from the covered bridge with a cross cutout at the gate to a phone booth and community gazebo, harkens back to a simpler time.
“As a society, we have a yearning down deep to reflect back,” Davenport stated, adding with The Chandler he and his son, who is helping him with the project, were going after a niche market of empty-nesters and downsizers. They were pleasantly surprised to learn millennials were interested in the development, as well.
The Chandler, which is known as the home of the giant flags for the 30-by-60-foot American and 20-by-30-foot Christian flags that soar high above it, boasts street names such as Memory Lane and Veterans Avenue, as well as an 18½ mph speed limit.
While the flags are over-sized, the homes in the development are not. The zero-step homes, which offer artificial grass inside a white picket fence, run about 1,500 square feet. Davenport envisions residents chatting over a glass of lemonade while swinging on the homes’ ample front porches.
A self-proclaimed workaholic, Davenport has been forced to slow down a bit recently after being diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease. For nearly a year, he has spent four hours twice a week on dialysis and will need a transplant.
“I haven’t even told my mother because I don’t want her to worry,” he said, adding he had a cousin offer to donate a kidney but the two weren’t compatible. “My hope is that someone will donate.”
His best friend since the two attended second-grade together at Elkhorn Elementary, Wendell Butler, is also going to be tested to see if he’s a match. Davenport, a stout Donald Trump supporter, jokingly said his body may reject Butler’s liberal kidney.
No matter what the future holds, Davenport has left his mark on Frankfort.
“I have invested heavily here and it’s been an amazing ride through this life,” he added. “I am so thankful.”