The end of McMansions?

• Driving so much of the investment and construction activity here is the multi-family residential segment. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that apartment complex starts – five buildings or larger – as percentage of residential construction reached 40 percent of total housing starts, the highest percent since 1974.

Housing experts are asking if the United States has crossed some threshold – if this signals the end of the suburbs and the McMansions of the 1980s and 1990s.

From the WSJ post:

Are Americans giving up on the idea of a home in the suburbs for good? That’s the question economists are asking after April data showing a boom in multi-unit housing starts.

“The march to live on top of each other rather than next door with sufficiently sized side yards continues. There are any number of factors behind this move to closer quarters, baby boomers tired of paying for lawn care, the demand for shorter commutes, and young people with credit good enough to pay high rent but not quite so good to afford a down payment and qualify for a mortgage,” said Steve Blitz, chief economist of ITG Investment Research.

A large apartment project coming downtown may test that theory here … which is all we’re cleared to say for now.

The Kingdom comes

One of the larger private construction efforts has been Kentucky Kingdom, where contractors were working all through the brutal winter. No soft opening … sources tell us 20,000 people were there Saturday for an unofficial opening day courtesy of a huge local employer.

Kentucky Kingdom 3.0, oddly, is national news, with the Los Angeles Times’ Travel section running a very detailed post last week complete with all the ups and downs, twists and turns since the 1990s.

Oh, and the Times had some news:

Coming attractions have already been sketched out for the next two seasons.

In 2015, Kentucky Kingdom will convert the standing-but-not-operating T2 inverted coaster into T3, or Terror to the Third Power. T2 was the first suspended looping coaster built in the United States by Vekoma Rides in 1995.

In 2016, the standing-but-not-operating Twisted Twins is budgeted to get a $10-million upgrade that has ride enthusiasts wondering what’s in store for the 1998 Custom Coasters International ride. The park is considering plans to transform the dual tracks of the dueling wooden coaster into a single marquee ride.

More as we know more.

Restaurant incubator on Main Street

• We’re still waiting (not all that patiently) for an interview. But insiders including regulars at OpenCoffee events for the startup and tech communities, have been talking for months about Cafe Press co-founder Fred Durham’s ambitious plans for Main Street. As we told you in the latest The Closing Bell, Durham just closed on the former Prime Lounge building at 102 W. Main St., planning to turn it into a restaurant incubator complete with Louisville’s first experimental restaurant. Or so we hear.

The building — which is more like two and a half connected buildings – across Main Street from Whiskey Row also will house Durham’s company, Durham Labs. Durham Labs is a LVL1-affiliated lab where our local makers, engineers and techies are invited to come invent stuff in the areas of consumer products and robotics.

That, and not government initiatives, transform cities.

We’re a hotbed for Venture Capital

More good news. Forbes has a long post about VCs focusing on the Midwest. (Louisville, of course, has the advantage of being Southern when Garden and Gun is calling, and Midwest if it’s investors, depending on who’s asking.) The Forbes post documents two contrarian investors who figure there’s money to me made in the arbitrage of 19 percent of GDP and 19 percent of patents coming from the Midwest, yet the region attracting only 5 percent of America’s venture capital.