The Closing Bell: Todd Blue selling downtown building, other properties ‘available’ … plus news of new apartments, GE products, a grocery store, and more
Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
Real Estate developer Todd Blue selling Cobalt Marketplace
Story updated at 10 a.m. Monday.
The Cobalt Marketplace Building at 445 E. Market St. is up for sale.
Owner Todd Blue is the founder of real estate investment and development firm Cobalt Ventures, which owns a dozen properties in Louisville.
Realtor Colin Underhill is handling the listing and directed Insider Louisville’s inquiries about the property to Blue.
Blue talked to IL via text message because he was flying overseas.
“I am not aggressively ‘looking’ to sell. We wanted to make sure that we made this incredible opportunity known to forward-thinking, early adopters for the next phase of downtown (which will be HUGE residential growth and bourbon-based tourism & entertainment). The uniqueness of the location is built on those things plus the un-duplicatable front and center naming rights position (on I-65). This property couldn’t be more perfectly-sized for a growing company.”
Blue also wrote that the Cobalt Marketplace is the gateway to the NuLu neighborhood and near what is the “premier multi-family mixed-use project.”
The development he’s referring to is a 343-unit apartment complex that developer Kevin Cogan and Louisville businessman Jim Patterson, among other partners, plan to construct at 418 E. Main St. The project will include retail on the first floor.
What is Blue asking for the property? $8.5 million, he said — just $400,000 shy of what Carl Greer and Earl Greer are asking for a 2.72-acre block they own in NuLu.
The 130-year-old Cobalt Marketplace building, located at the corner of Market and Jackson streets, is “a historically preserved building,” Blue wrote. “We worked very hard on that project. It’s very special in every way.”
Blue has not listed any of his other Louisville properties, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to part with them.
“I’m not actively selling anything, but everything is available,” Blue wrote.
The listing of the Cobalt Marketplace may come as little surprise to some after comments Blue made to IL in 2014 when he moved his family and business operations to Houston. Blue owns high-end car dealerships in Texas.
Blue said he doesn’t believe Louisville is business friendly, resulting in the decline of the city’s private business sector.
He also called out the University of Louisville, saying it’s taken state money that should’ve gone to private developers and has turned into one of Louisville’s biggest developers. Blue even went as far as to compare U of L president James Ramsey to Putin — yes, as in Vladimir.
“This city is gorgeous,” Blue said then. “It has so much going for it. It just needs to believe in itself. But it’s hard to believe in oneself when you have so much power in so few hands.”—Caitlin Bowling
Bonnycastle apartment owner plans to build additional units
The owner of a four-unit apartment building off Bardstown Road is hoping to rezone the property and add five new units.
Reisert Insurance Inc. wants to rezone 2019 Murray Ave. in the Bonnycastle section of the Highlands from R5-A to R7, which will allow the company to construct a new three-story, five-unit apartment building behind its existing four-unit apartment building. The current zoning only allows for 4.8-units on the property, according to planning documents.
The new units would be 850-950 square feet each.
The project includes 10 parking spaces off an alley next to the buildings, as well as street parking. The owner also plans to add trees along the alley and a courtyard where tenants and guests can enter the two buildings, according to the documents.
GE inks exclusive deal with Shea Homes
GE Appliances said it has been awarded “exclusive partnership” status with Shea Homes to supply the home builder with its Profile, Café and Monogram appliances, taking business from its competitor Whirlpool.
“We’re honored to be a part of Shea Homes’ promise to its customers in each of the thousands of homes it will build over the next several years,” John Boyd, general manager of GE Contract Sales, said in a press release.
A person who answered a phone call to the California offices of Shea Homes said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the arrangement with GE. She said she would try to have someone call Insider Louisville, but no one did.
Shea’s website lists several of its “most valued partners,” which include faucet makers Delta and Kohler, Milgard Windows & Doors – and, for appliances, Whirlpool and its subsidiary KitchenAid, both competitors of GE.
GE brings AC production to Louisville, adds 75 jobs
GE Appliances is creating 100 jobs at its Louisville campus to produce air conditioners for the hospitality industry.
The company introduced the new Zoneline product line this week.
GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman said the company plans to gradually add 75 workers and will bring in an additional 25 employees from other local facilities.
Employees in the company’s Louisville refrigerator plant on Thursday afternoon were preparing the air conditioner line and receiving training. Freeman said production should be in full swing early next year.
GE said in a press release that its new Zoneline units “are engineered to be more reliable and quiet,” which are important attributes for motel/hotel owners.
Noise and temperature issues are among guests’ biggest complaints, GE said, and industry data show that when guests are not pleased with the temperature or noise of their room, two-thirds are unlikely to return to the hotel, and one-third are unlikely to recommend a hotel.—Boris Ladwig
Ribbon-cutting at former nightclub-turned-software bootcamp
Earlier this month, we introduced you to The Software Guild, the Akron-based software bootcamp that recently opened a Louisville operation. The Guild will celebrate the conclusion of renovations with a ribbon cutting on Monday, Nov. 16, at 10:30 a.m.
Mayor Fischer will be on hand, as will Eric Wise, founder of The Software Guild.
Louisville’s Learning House purchased the Software Guild in April. The Guild has been sharing space with Code Louisville, which occupies the other half of the building.
These renovations breathe new and very different life into the University of Louisville Foundation-owned building at South Floyd and East Market streets. Its previous life included time as a Mexican restaurant, La Rosita, and a nightclub called Icebreakers.
A year ago, IL toured the empty building with Vickie Yates Brown, president and CEO of U of L’s Nucleus. She said she would “love to see the La Rosita building become a break-out space for entrepreneurs and a facility to serve the tenants of the Nucleus campus — perhaps a coffeeshop, a place for meetings or maybe even small offices.”
RSVP for the ribbon-cutting here. —Melissa Chipman
Please & Thank You’s Frankfort Avenue debut pushed to next year
Popular coffee shop Please & Thank You won’t open its Clifton location in time for the holidays as hoped, co-owner Brooke Vaughn told Insider Louisville.
The C-J previously reported that Please & Thank You is opening a new location at 2341 Frankfort Ave., and at the time, Vaughn planned to open it this year.
However, the contractor found some foundation problems and had to redraw plans for the new shop a couple times, she said, which contributed to a project delay. The opening for the Frankfort Avenue location has been pushed to early next year.
And although planning documents for the new Please & Thank You called the project Hot Cookies, Vaughn said that is not its name. Instead, the coffee shop, which might be more well-known for its gooey chocolate chip cookies than anything else, will be called Please and Thank You on the Avenue.
Vaughn said her employees are happy about the delay because the holidays are already a busy time of year without opening a new store and having to train its seven new employees.
Georgetown, Ind. manufacturer more than doubling size of its facility
Filtration system manufacturer Fabtration will use money from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County’s revolving loan fund to grow its operations in Southern Indiana
Fabtration received $50,000 to add 15,000 square feet to its 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Georgetown, as well as add 2,500 square feet of administrative offices, according to a news release. The expansion will allow the company to make larger scale filtration systems and result in the addition of 16 new employees.
“The loan will enable the company to expand current operations and create additional jobs for our community. This type of growth in the manufacturing sector is especially important in the current economy,” Kevin Zurschmiede, chairman of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund committee, said in the release.
Misc. Goods Co. — ‘Things we Known’t’
Designer/maker/Kickstarter phenom Tyler Deeb of Misc. Goods Co. has just released the first in a series of web videos called “Things we Known’t.” The series features Deeb (actually several Deebs) explaining “certain things that you already know, but don’t.”
Episode one is an explainer for the card game Rummy. And Deeb is right. I thought I knew how to play Rummy, but there are rules and ways of winning in this explainer that I’ve never heard of, and I’ve been playing the game all my life.
Misc. Goods Co. is a company that offers stylish takes on ordinary things. It was born from a Kickstarter Campaign in 2012 where Deeb raised more than 2,000 percent of his goal for a designed playing card deck.
Fresh Thyme market replacing a former liquor store in St. Matthews
Arizona-based Fresh Thyme Farmers Market will open its first Kentucky store in Louisville at 4301 Shelbyville Road, according to city building permits.
The site formerly was a Liquor Barn. However, the liquor store closed amid a legal dispute with Beverage Warehouse, which had a location just across the street.
Business First reported that Fresh Thyme will spend $600,000 to renovate the 27,884-square-foot store. Cincinnati-based Cintech Construction is the project’s contractor.
Fresh Thyme is a fresh market concept that sells organic produce, hormone-free meats, fresh seafood flown in daily and Earth-friendly cleaning supplies, among other items, according to its website.
21c appoints staff in Lexington, eyes four more markets in 2016
21c Museum Hotels is certainly on the move, serving as a success story for a Louisville-based concept. Their Lexington location — which also combines a boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and chef-driven restaurant — is slated to open in early 2016.
This week, 21c announced the appointment of Jennifer Davis to director of sales and marketing in Lexington, and Ashley Ellis to the position of food and beverage director of the restaurant, called Lockbox. Both have extensive backgrounds in the hospitality and marketing fields. Davis comes from the Hilton Downtown in Lexington, and Ellis previously served as the assistant director of food and beverage for the La Cantera Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas.
“As 21c Museum Hotels prepares to open into Lexington, we are excited to be assembling a leadership team that includes a mix of seasoned 21c experience, Kentucky roots and individuals new to our company,” said Craig Greenberg, president of 21c Museum Hotels, in a press release.
The 21c Museum Hotel concept, which launched in Louisville in 2006 by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, has opened in Cincinnati, Bentonville, Ark., and Durham, N.C. Hotels in Lexington, Nashville and Oklahoma City are currently under construction and will open in 2016. And the company also is eying markets in Kansas City and Indianapolis.
Michter’s Sour Mash in limited supply
But don’t fret too much, as the 86-proof whiskey is promised to be back on shelves in 2016: “While we know this may disappoint our loyal customers, please know that it is only temporary.”
Rest assured, production at Michter’s new 65,000-square-foot facility in Shively is cranking out bourbon and whiskey as we speak. —Sara Havens