Monday Business Briefing: Edison Center cleanup, Mexican breakfast in Crescent Hill, B-F master taster leaving, O’Malley’s Corner news, and more
Welcome to the Feb. 23 Monday Business Briefing.
This is your private business intelligence briefing, with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.
First, a reminder about this evening’s Insiders Meetup featuring special guest Ted Smith on the topic of “citizen science.” The makeup meetup kicks off at Vincenzo’s at 4:30 p.m.
We’ve got a lot for you this week, from new restaurants and retail to big downtown news and the latest from our frozen state capital. But first, the rest of the story on that payroll bump set to hit Old Louisville later this year…
New site for city workers undergoing environmental remediation work
Earlier this month, Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration announced it had reached an agreement to relocate the offices of nearly 300 city workers from the mold-infested Urban Government Center at 810 Barret Ave. to the Edison Center, a soon-to-be redeveloped warehouse at Seventh and Ormsby streets in Old Louisville.
Before they do, though, the building — once home to LG&E’s main service center, as well as a coal gasification project — will require some heavy-duty environmental cleanup.
The good news is that developer Bill Weyland, who owns the Edison Center with a group of partners, is an experienced hand at urban infill projects that come with some crud. He faced big environmental remediation work at Glassworks, Hillerich & Bradsby, and the Henry Clay, to name a few.
“It’s part of the process of building in the city,” Weyland says. “It’s an expertise that we’ve developed over time that allows us to contemplate different strategies to bring significant buildings back to life.”
When Weyland and his partners bought the Edison Center from LG&E for $5,000 in January 2014, it came along with a set of deed restrictions that include limitations on groundwater usage and maintenance of the cap in place at the site — the concrete parking lot and building footprint that seal off the ground below. The deed also prevents any developer from turning the site into residential units.
Weyland says there is residual underground contamination that will prevent them from digging as part of the redevelopment; however, there isn’t any current exposure to unsafe chemicals at the site. The LG&E environmental impact report included with the deed confirms that, and two experts IL spoke with said despite the presence of some fairly scary chemicals — benzene, for instance — this is all a normal part of the rehab course for an old building.
In addition, Weyland is installing monitoring wells to keep current information on the site. He says in a few years, as the potential contamination continues to fade, he hopes to be able to apply to have the environmental restrictions lifted.
For its part, Fischer administration spokesman Chris Poynter says they have no concerns about environmental complications at the site.
As for the building itself, Weyland says most of the cleanup includes removing asbestos and lead paint, which an environmental remediation crew has already been doing. The cleanup is expected to cost just shy of $1 million, Weyland says. He is working under an EPA grant he received through the city to get the property ready for redevelopment.
Weyland says the project reminds him of the Henry Clay, where the cleanup cost almost the same and stretched far beyond lead paint here and there (think years’ worth of pigeon droppings). The Edison Center is much better off, he says, because LG&E kept it up through the years.
Marianne Zickuhr, executive director of Preservation Louisville, says Weyland is the right developer for the complex but important project. “As we are thinking about maintenance of the structures that we love — live in, work in — mitigation comes along with that,” she says. “I don’t know that there are many people who want to take on a project of that size. I hands-down don’t know that there’s a better developer in this city.”
Weyland says he expects the building will open later this year.
Mexican breakfast and lunch spot coming soon to Crescent Hill
An IL staffer was driving along Frankfort Avenue last week when she nearly rear-ended another car — not due to snow-covered roads, but because she spotted a freshly painted, bright yellow storefront with the words “Con Huevos” over the door.
Having retained enough high school Spanish to know this meant “With Eggs,” the food-obsessed reporter pulled over and braved the arctic chill to snoop around, learning from the fine print on the awning that Con Huevos will serve “Fresh Mexican Breakfast and Lunch.”
And according to a sign on the window, the restaurant is “coming soon.”
Neighboring business owners knew nothing of the mysterious restaurant in the works at 2339 Frankfort Ave. — formerly Sari Sari Filipino Restaurant — but the two with whom we spoke were excited about an impending new addition to the Crescent Hill business corridor.
A little Googling turned up a Craigslist ad that Con Huevos had posted seeking servers; we took a shot, and — bingo! — the proprietors emailed us back with some details.
Husband and wife Chuy Martinez and Izmene Peredo moved here last year from Mexico (Mexico City and Guadalajara, respectively), and on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary, decided to celebrate with “the birth of our first business together in the city of Louisville,” Martinez tells IL via email.
Martinez says both he and his wife bring with them rich culinary traditions from their families.
“We will offer a collection of those recipes that we inherited, seeking to replicate the way they were prepared in the past,” he writes. “The recipes are really simple, but the secret is to always use fresh ingredients and cook with much love! With passion! With eggs! Con Huevos!”
Peredo will serve as general manager of the restaurant, while Martinez — who has a degree in marketing — says he will continue working at Brown-Forman, in addition to acting as co-owner of Con Huevos with his wife.