Welcome to the Aug. 20 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Taco Luchador open downtown next week, reveals new planned location
Not only is El Taco Luchador soon to open its third location, but the owners of the restaurant chain also have another location in the works.
The brains behind Olé Restaurant Group announced on Facebook that its latest location at the corner of South Fifth and West Jefferson streets downtown will open during the last week of August. They had hoped to open a little bit sooner, but plumbing work delayed it slightly.
Rick Moir, the managing partner for Olé Restaurant Group, said Monday morning that the official open date is Aug. 30.
The new restaurant, located at 500 W. Jefferson St. in the former Zoës Kitchen space, will seat 60 people inside and 40 outside, Insider Louisville previously reported.
Moir confirmed to Insider that Taco Luchador has another, previously unannounced, location in the works. The restaurant will be one of a possible three to four restaurant concepts housed at Colonial Gardens, Moir said.
Louisville-based Underhill Associates is redeveloping Colonial Gardens, which has sat vacant since 2003, and expanding its footprint. The company is investing $2.8 million in the $5 million project, the remainder of which Louisville Metro Government is funding.
Plans approved by the city call for the renovation of the existing two-story Colonial Gardens building and the construction of two new 3,200-square-foot buildings and a third 4,150-square-foot building. Workers also will build out nearly 2,600-square-feet of outdoor patio space for dining and live music.
Construction on Colonial Gardens is expected to wrap up in spring 2019, according to a previous Insider report. Moir said the Colonial Gardens location is set to open sometime next year, but it is unclear how quickly.
Sorry, Jeffersontown residents, there is no timeline for when the planned Taco Luchador location in Stonybrook Village Center, 9204 Taylorsville Road, could open, but it is still in the works.
That store is being constructed from the ground up, whereas previous Taco Luchador stores have all been renovation projects. The plans for the Jeffersontown location still need to be approved before work can even start, meaning it will be next year before the new space likely opens. —Caitlin Bowling
Home sales continue to decline in July as homebuilders try to keep up with demand
The demand for houses remains high despite declining home sales, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
In Louisville, home sales dropped 1.6 percent in July compared to the year prior and are down 1.4 percent year-over-year so far.
The slowdown, which is occurring nationwide, has some questioning if the market is recessing. However, Yun disputed that assertion in a Forbes column, saying customer demand is there and attributing the decline in home sales to lack of inventory. Yun wrote in the column that it is reasonable for people to be cautious following the recession.
As interest rates remain low, some homebuyers are willing to bide their time to find the right house as well, some experts have said.
Yun noted in a news release that he is more concerned about housing affordability as the competition for houses raises the average price. In Louisville, the average home sold for $237,728 in July, up 8.8 percent from the same time last year.
David Parks, president of the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors, said in a news release that he is starting to see the local real estate market loosen up when it comes to higher priced homes. That could eventually help shift homebuyers out of starter homes and lower-priced houses, opening up inventory for first-time homebuyers.
“The demand for starter homes is still very high with low inventory levels under $250,000,” Parks said. “At the same time, we’re seeing a normalization of inventory in the higher price points.”
Homebuilders have kept their schedules filled with new developments, as new construction expected to go up 15 percent to 20 percent this year compared to 2017. One new demand that builders are seeing is the desire to downsize from larger homes.
Elite Homes recently introduced an energy-efficient model home in East End subdivision, The Enclave at Douglass Hills, that aims to cater to that market of homebuyers. The company has four new two- to three-bedroom designs, three of which are around 1,800 square feet, and the last of which is just under 2,300 square feet; the price of the designs range from $347,900 to $381,900.
“We are responding to emerging demographic trends in Louisville by building homes to accommodate homebuyers who are more focused on service and convenience and prefer to eliminate the responsibility of owning a large house,” Elite Homes’ COO Mike Metzkes said in a news release. —Caitlin Bowling
Yum China buyout may be in the future
Not quite two years after Yum China debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, news is swirling that a coalition of investment firms may buy out the China-based offshoot of Louisville Yum Brands.
Reuters, citing sources close to the deal, reported that the Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital Group plans to lead a group of investors to buy Yum China. The group has commitments of more than $10 billion, according to the report.
A buyout could also mean a switch from the New York Stock Exchange to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
Yum China already has a minor stakeholder in the private equity firm Primavera Capital Group and the mobile financial services provider Ant Financial Services Group. The two companies agreed to invest a total of $460 million in Yum China ahead of the spinoff from Yum Brands in fall 2016.
Resurfaced getting repurposed
The shipping containers, soccer turf and seating that once served as the foundation of ReSurfaced on Liberty Street will get new life at the new Logan Street Market in the Shelby Park neighborhood.
ReSurfaced was an effort by nonprofit City Collaborative and took place in several locations in the city, where the temporary setup would host games, music, food trucks and more. The version of ReSurfaced on Liberty Street in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood has been there since 2016, though it was not as successful as past locations and wasn’t revived this year.
Now, the pieces that helped make up ReSurfaced have moved to 1001 Logan St. where businessman Mike Safai, owner of Safai Coffee, is building out an indoor market called Logan Street Market, which is expected to open in February 2019.
“Our vision is to be an all-inclusive space for community events,” Safai said in a news release. “It is a perfect way to repurpose the ReSurfaced assets for the community.”
The market will have garage doors that open to the sidewalk and feature booths for restaurants, produce vendors, a craft brewery, a kitchen for cooking classes and a stage for events. The seating from ReSurfaced will be used in a plaza area, while the shipping containers will be renovated into Airbnbs on the roof of the market.
“With our specialty grade coffee business, we have a number of people coming from all over the world,” Safai said. “Outside of downtown, it is difficult to find a convenient hotel. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if people could stay right here?’ ” —Caitlin Bowling
Navy official to visit Louisville
U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono will stop by the Louisville area chapter of the American Red Cross Tuesday while visiting the city during Navy Week.
Bono is expected to tour the Hero Care Center, a call center for military members and their families, and the first part of a bimonthly board meeting will be devoted to the Red Cross’ humanitarian support of the Armed Forces.
The Hero Care Center helps to connect military personnel with their families during emergencies or other important times, such as the death or serious illness of a close relative or the birth of a child.
Louisville is one of 14 cities chosen to host Navy Week, which is Aug. 19-26. The occasion is meant to give residents a chance to learn about the Navy, its members and its role in national security and prosperity, according to a Navy website.
Botania, the nonprofit behind the 23-acre, $60 million Waterfront Botanical Gardens project, is seeking $500,000 in new donations and pledges by Dec. 31 in order to tap into a $500,000 matching grant from George Duthie. Duthie already has donated $1.5 million on behalf of his late wife, Mary Lee Duthie.
Startups in Louisville and Lexington helped propel the cities up one notch each in the 2018 Best of the Midwest ranking. Louisville climbed to 14 and Lexington to 18 on the top 25 list from MidwestStartups.com.
The Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition has added three new member coalitions: Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Volunteers of America Mid-States. The Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition says it advocates for “common sense criminal reforms to enhance public safety, strengthen communities and save tax dollars.”
Norton Healthcare had revenues of $566.5 million in the three months ended June 30, up from $525.5 million in the same period a year earlier, The Becker’s Hospital Review reported. The performance was said to be due to growth in net patient service revenue due to higher patient volumes.