Monday Business Briefing: Prime commercial property in Highlands, Hillsdale Furniture moving to Louisville, U of L prof on Humana deal, and more
Welcome to the Nov. 30 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Specialty running store leaves prime Bardstown Road real estate open
A 1,600-square-foot space in the historic Schuster Building has opened up.
The building sits at the high-traffic corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway, with 21,675 cars passing through daily, according to the property listing by real estate firm Duncan Commercial Real Estate.
It’s hard to believe a company would give it up.
The previous tenant was BlueMile, a small chain of running stores co-owned by Indianapolis-based retailer The Finish Line and Denver-based private equity firm Gart Capital Partners. It still has four locations in central Indiana.
BlueMile closed the Bardstown Road store and its location in the Paddock Shops at the end of October.
“The closing of our two BlueMile locations in Louisville is a part of our normal course of business as we open and close stores based on results and demand in the market,” Dianna Boyce, senior director of corporate communications for The Finish Line, said in an emailed statement.
The Paddock Shops is searching for a replacement tenant, as is the Schuster Building.
Realtor Florence Browne with Duncan said her firm is not in a rush to replace BlueMile since the company is paying rent on the space until the end of the year, but she hopes to have a new tenant agreement signed by mid- to late December.
“The goal there is (to have) something that would complement the building and be an asset to the neighborhood,” Browne said. “There are a lot of different options we would consider.”
She gave examples such as a doctor’s office, small furniture store or other high-end retailer. Duncan is not looking for a restaurant because the building already has Qdoba Mexican Grill, Smoothie King and Sarang, a Korean eatery.
The storefront includes a small warehouse space to stock inventory, a bathroom and some off-street parking, and the 88-year-old Schuster Building is “an iconic location” with “great visibility,” Browne said. Various events throughout the year including the Zombie Walk and the upcoming Bardstown Road Aglow bring droves of people past the store.
Hillsdale Furniture moving warehouse to Louisville, expanding operations
Louisville-based wholesale furniture company Hillsdale Furniture is moving into a new 480,000-square-foot warehouse at the Air Commerce Center One off Outer Loop.
The new warehouse building will cost more than $900,000, according to a building permit filed with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.
The company is packing up its operations in Bullitt County, where it has a 300,000-square-foot warehouse, and bringing them back to Louisville. Hillsdale will keep its headquarters on Bishop Lane.
“We had no problem with Bullitt County,” said David Brill, Hillsdale’s chief operating officer. Hillsdale looked at expanding there, but “it just wasn’t feasible.”
Hillsdale started looking for new digs because the stores of furniture were reaching the ceiling — a result of organic growth and the acquisition of NE Kids, a youth bedroom maker and importer in Virginia. Brill declined to stay how much Hillsdale paid for NE Kids.
The new site, located at 2501 Export Drive, also gives the company the option of expanding the warehouse to 630,000 square feet.
U of L prof expects ‘little interruption’ from Aetna-Humana deal
Aetna’s planned acquisition of Louisville-based Humana likely will have little negative impact on the local company, a University of Louisville professor said.
Aetna plans to buy Humana for $37 billion. Shareholders of both companies have approved the acquisition, but the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the deal.
The merged company will own real estate in Louisville and, even more important, will have a trained workforce in a highly technical and competitive field, said Janet Kelly, director of the Urban Studies Institute and a professor in urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville.
“I’m actually very optimistic that if it goes through, there will be little interruption,” Kelly said.
Her comments echoed those of Humana co-founder David Jones Sr., who recently told Insider Louisville that while some people would inevitably lose their jobs because of the merger, most of the company’s Louisville employees would be protected.
Kale & Flax coming soon — and no, it’s not a smoothie joint
Tarik Nally — former senior art director at ad and marketing firm Mightily — has forged out on his own and started Louisville’s first experiential data and design studio. Nally worked at Mightily as president Pip Pullen’s right-hand-man for 19 months.
Nally has wanted to go out on his own for a long time, and he only had to pitch Kale & Flax twice to investors before they were willing to hand over the cash to get it started. At the time, he didn’t feel quite ready, he said, but it was “too prime of an opportunity not to take.”
So what exactly is experiential data? Imagine an annual report that you can interact with — not just a 20-page PDF on a website. Imagine a political campaign website that considers your own interests and demographics. Just look at the Mightily website for an idea.
Nally has office space at Sixth and Main streets that he plans to renovate sometime in early winter. He’s hiring two employees in January.
“There’s room for growth in Louisville,” said Nally. “I feel like the city is pivoting. I want to be able to influence businesses here in Louisville.”
Company culture is a high priority for Nally. He’s renovating his office in the most green way he can. He’s aiming for a 4.5-day workweek and office brunches on Wednesdays. Happy employees make work feel like “something bigger,” he said.
Unfortunately he’s not ready to identify his first clients but says there are some big names, including a car manufacturer, a liquor company, and a big-name ad agency.
Two sizable subdivisions planned for south central Jefferson County
Within a mile-and-a-half of each other, two residential housing developers are planning to build new subdivisions.
One is a conservation neighborhood, called Meadow Creek, with 163 proposed housing lots and an emphasis on plenty of open space. The second proposed neighborhood includes 254 lots and is called Parkside at Mt. Washington.
Clarksville, Ind.-based Premier Land Development Inc. hopes to start readying the nearly 60-acres of land known as Meadow Creek subdivision, 6204 Mt. Washington Road, for construction in the spring. Homes would then be available in late 2016 or in 2017, said Bill Fischer, the real estate broker working on the project.
The project is waiting on design approvals from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and isn’t expected to hit any snags.
Plans for the subdivision allow for more than 30 percent of the land to be open space, Fischer said. “It’s a very conservation-sensitive plan we are applying for.”
The homes will be ranch-style with three to four bedrooms with two to three bathrooms. They will have vaulted ceilings, be energy efficient and include amenities such as granite counter tops. Some homes also will have basement walkouts.
Prices will average $175,000 to $225,000 a home, he said.
The cost of homes in Parkside at Mt. Washington will trend slightly higher, in the low to mid-$200,000 range, according to Rocco Pigneri, Louisville operations manager at home-building company Ball Homes.
The subdivision will sit on 74.43 acres of land at 7101 Mt. Washington Road and back up to McNeely Lake Park.
Residents of Parkside will include first-time homebuyers, empty nesters looking to downgrade and families, Pigneri said.
Project plans were previously approved, but the company is seeking approval for a revised version of the plan after hearing concerns about traffic from nearby residents. Ball Homes changed the entry point for Parkside to get traffic off the road more quickly, Pigneri said, and designed around some existing trees that originally would’ve been chopped down. He expects site work to begin in the middle of next year.
Ball Homes has completed two previous subdivisions in the area, Cooper Farms and Primrose Meadows. Those have done well, and the Louisville housing market has continued to improve, Pigneri said, prompting Ball Homes to start on Parkside.
Beverage Warehouse opening Bardstown Road store
Louisville-based beer and liquor store Beverage Warehouse is officially opening its fifth location at 3325-3327 Bardstown Road, near the site of the planned Costco.
A building permit filed with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government calls for work on a tenant fit-up for a Beverage Warehouse at the dual-address location.
Insider Louisville previously reported that Beverage Warehouse owner Greg Anastas purchased a former muffler shop at 3325 Bardstown Road and planned to add 5,400 square feet of space to an existing 4,000-square-foot building.
Anastas did not return calls for comment, so we don’t know why he picked that spot or when the store will open. However, it seems likely Costco played a role.
Interest in property around the future Costco is growing, and people have predicted that the members-only bulk goods retailer will drive traffic to that section of Bardstown Road near Interstate 264. —Caitlin Bowling
St. James Court resident plans to turn home into B&B
Patricia Mahaun moved to St. James Court and to Louisville in the summer of 2013 expressly to open a bed and breakfast, called the Inn at Saint James Court.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” Mahaun said.
But she didn’t want just any house. Mahaun worked with a Realtor for four years until she found 1440 St. James Court, where she now resides and rents out two upstairs apartments.
“(The Realtor) must have surely thought this was a lark. I was just waiting for the right house and the right place,” Mahaun said, adding that she gained experience in hospitality as a protocol officer in the U.S. Air Force, which required her to arrange all aspects of distinguished guests’ visits.
The Old Louisville home has three bedrooms that it can rent out to B&B guests, with a private bathroom for each, as well as space for groups to rent for events such as baby showers and engagement parties. It has five off-street and three on-street parking spaces to accommodate both the renters and B&B guests, according to documents filed with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.
Parking is a concern for some neighbors. However, Mahaun said she did an informal traffic study and at random times of the day would count the number of parking spots available. During the day, she said, there was anywhere from 10 to 20.
The only time parking was tight was when people returned to the street late at night, around 10 or 11 p.m., Mahaun said.
Since buying the house, Mahaun has spent time fixing up the interior, including completely overhauling one bedroom and one bathroom, making cosmetic changes and repairing damages from an ice storm in 2014.
Although the house is 124 years old, the furnishings are more modern.
“It is the kind of furniture that you might find in an Ethan Allen store, same color schemes, lots of neutrals,” she said.
Mahaun still needs to install additional smoke detectors and set up a website for her B&B, but first, she’ll need the Board of Zoning Adjustment to grant her a conditional use permit allowing her to operate the business in a residential neighborhood. Mahaun goes before the board on Dec. 7 and hopes to open the Inn at Saint James Court early next year.
In documents filed with the city, she made her case for why they should allow it, among other things citing that she has gone to cooking classes, taken courses for event planning at a community college, and attended B&B conferences.
Governor, Louisville mayor at Kentucky Truck Plant Tuesday
Ford Motor Co. will make a big announcement at the Kentucky Truck Plant at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday that will include Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Steve Beshear.
Details on the announcement were scarce, but Ford said the event also would include Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, The Americas; and a representative of the national United Auto Workers union.
As part of the new contract Ford workers narrowly ratified Nov. 20, the company pledged investments of $9 billion, including $1.3 billion in Louisville.
Ford told Insider Louisville last week that it has not released additional details about the local investments beyond what is in the labor contract.
The contract lists $600 million in investments for the Kentucky Truck Plant for products including the all-new Super Duty, Expedition and Navigator. Ford also agreed to invest $700 million in the Louisville Assembly Plant for products including the all-new Escape, which the company revealed recently at the LA Auto Show. —Boris Ladwig
David Dafoe of Flavorman to be featured in Forbes
In the Dec. 14 issue of Forbes magazine, Louisvillian David Dafoe, who runs the Flavorman company, will be profiled and commended for his leadership skills. Titled “The Tastemaker: How David Dafoe Turned His Sensory Gift Into A $14 Million Company,” the nearly 1,000-word article details Dafoe’s beginnings as an entrepreneur and how he succeeded in the early days of Flavorman.
Dafoe worked for Brown-Forman for a brief period, helping develop brands and flavors. He then started tinkering with his own beverages, which led to the creation of Flavorman, and later, the Distilled Spirits Epicenter and Moonshine University.
Forbes staffer Susan Adams writes:
“Before the recession, Dafoe says, a buyer was offering $20 million for Flavorman. Another suitor is courting him now. The money, he says, is secondary. Though he has splurged on vacations like a scuba trip to the Honduran island of Roatán with his partner of 16 years, Darren Wilson, he drives a used two-door Ford Escort and pays himself $125,000 a year. He still carries a free-lunch token from his Cincinnati high school to remind himself of what it was like growing up with five siblings on his stepfather’s bricklayer salary.”
New Gatti’s Pizza hosting grand opening next week
Gatti’s Pizza once again has two Louisville locations.
A new 12,000-square-foot Gatti’s opened at 10035 Dixie Hwy., near Valley Traditional High School, about two weeks ago.
The site is smaller than a typical Gatti’s that is 20,000 square feet or more, said Nick Moore, president of Texas-based Foodservice Management Systems. “We structured the size of the store based on the local community” and the amount of customers it will draw.
The Dixie Highway Gatti’s offers some new games that recently came to market and uses a prepaid card system from Australia-based Embed Systems that allows customer to pay for games and tracks how many tickets the cardholder wins.
The new store currently employs four salaried workers and 52 hourly workers, but those numbers will fluctuate throughout the year, Moore said.
“Our business has become very seasonal,” he said, adding that business slows during the school year.
A ribbon-cutting will be held at the Dixie Highway store at 11 a.m. today followed by a week-long grand opening celebration. For $10, individuals can have unlimited access to more than a dozen games, including bumper cars, when they visit Gatti’s Pizza this week.
Foodservice Management Systems owns and operates the Gatti’s locations in Louisville. The second location is on Outer Loop, which is about 26,000 square feet. It previously owned a 26,000-square-foot Gattiland in Westport Village, but it closed last year after the company’s lease expired.
The company now is looking for a new East End location but has been unsuccessful so far.
“That is a much tougher real estate decision for us,” Moore said. “Rents are considerably higher.”
Foodservice Management Systems plans to see how the smaller Dixie Highway location runs to see if that would be feasible in the East End.
“(An East End store) is certainly still in the back of our minds,” he said, “but we need some answers before we go invest money in a store that size again.” —Caitlin Bowling