(Editor’s note: This post was updated at 10 a.m. The original version misidentified Kieran Burke.)
Welcome to the July 2 top secret, always confidential Monday Business Briefing.
These are biz tips Insider Louisville staff and contributors have collected during the past few days, a few of which are NOT double-verified like Insider Louisville’s daily reporting.
But as we always say, this is information from insider sources with direct knowledge of events … information the competition won’t have for hours, days or even weeks.
As we head toward a Fourth of July break, we remind you the online news revolution is all about scoops. Here’s a big one:
• Look for the Aegon Center, Louisville’s most prestigious corporate address, to be renamed “Mercer Center” before it’s all over.
Why? Because insiders have confirmed what’s left of Aegon in Louisville is leaving Fourth and Market streets for the far suburbs.
Aegon inked a deal Friday for two floors in Faulkner Real Estate’s Ormsby One building in the Forest Green Corporate Campus. The lease on the eastern Jefferson County business park space includes all of the fourth floor and part of the third, our sources say.
This is the latest chapter in the Netherlands-based insurer’s troubles. Last Friday, the Aegon NV cancelled listing of its common shares on the London Stock Exchange, though shares will continue to be listed on Euronext Amsterdam and the New York Stock Exchange.
Closer to home, sources have given us an inside view of Aegon’s ops here:
There are about 100 remaining employees – mostly IT personnel – left in Louisville from about 1,300-person workforce back in 1997 when Aegon bought what was then Providian (originally Capital Holding).
Most of the remaining Aegon staffers thought they’d stay downtown, but that was not to be:
We received word last week that they signed a 6-year lease for us to move into one of the Forest Green buildings on Hurstborne, near Dorsey Lane. We are supposed to move in the October to November time frame.
Our sources say Aegon was fed up with paying $20-per-square foot space, a higher rate than in Baltimore and other Aegon markets. But that rate does not seem to bother Humana and Mercer, the HR and financial consulting giant, which already have started moving into Aegon’s vacated floor. What’s good for the Aegon Center, however, is bad for Meidinger Tower, which we hear is now below 50-percent occupancy with the mass exodus of Mercer.
Mercer now has at least four full floors in the 35-story Aegon Center. Aegon at one time had 10 floors.
One source told us Marc Barlow at CB Richard Ellis “is killing it at Aegon Tower,” doing deal and after deal.
More as this shakes out.
• This is a shocker: Highlands restaurant fixture Avalon Restaurant closed over the weekend. After we had them on our list last month of restaurants that have packed in crowds for years! And Avalon still does. Well, did. We checked their phone, and the recording states the restaurant closed permanently because of “unforseen circumstances.” This follows the news late last week that Avalon owner Steve Clements’ catering business will no longer be caterer for the Kentucky Derby Museum after 25 years. We worked our sources all weekend, and they have the inside dope for a full post later this morning.
• We had this last week, but were running way long – at least two companies are talking to the Kentucky State Fair Board about taking over Kentucky Kingdom after the Koch family fled to the friendlier, more profitable confines of Indianapolis. Unfortunately for Louisville, neither of the suitors has the actual capital to revive Kentucky Kingdom, which will take at least $20 million to get back on line.
Sources have confirmed that both Amusement Management Partners and Premier Attractions Management have had at least informal talks with Fair Board officials. AMP manages Magic Springs in Arkansas, which was resuscitated back in the day by … wait for it … Ed Hart before Hart turned a bankrupt Kentucky Kingdom into Louisville’s No. 1 tourist attraction.
Real expertise, though PAM probably doesn’t have $50 million sitting around.
• We’re hearing major buzz about Extendicare pulling out of Kentucky, and whether Kindred Healthcare may be considering a similar move with their facilities, if not their headquarters.
Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears (a name too cool not to be made up) broke the news in late May that Ontario, Canada-based Extendicare was bolting, its management angry over increased litigation and the 2012 General Assembly’s failure to pass legislation making it more difficult to sue nursing homes. The company leased all 21 of its skilled nursing centers in Kentucky to an unidentified operator based in Texas, a deal effective yesterday, according the Herald-Leader.
“Kind of an interesting turn of events, considering Louisville touts itself as a (long-term care) location of choice,” noted a source.
That source and others have been telling Insider Louisville to expect a similar move by Kindred, though we’ve been hearing this since the first quarter of the year.
• Forget what GLI tells you. This is how business really works. Regus, the temp-office giant out of our favorite town, Luxembourg City, comes to town and invests a lot to renovate the seventh floor of the Marion E. Taylor Building downtown, as well as space at 10200 Forest Green Blvd. at Ormsby III. Before too long, some of Regus’ national clients starting following it to Louisville, which is how TechSherpa arrived here from Tampa. Now, TechSherpas has a big contract to work with UPS IT people on a mySQL data base project. Here’s how well Louisville has worked out for Regus. The just-opened MET facility is running 65 percent occupancy compared to Rochester, NY, which is running 17 percent after a comparable length of time.
• When Bullitt County officials blew the Amazon project, they really blew it. Sources sent us internal emails including this one: “Just got word Amazon will take over our fulfillment center so we will no longer have a Zappos in Kentucky by the end of 2012.” We thought these people were going to Zappos’ new distribution center in Jefffersonville. Nope. Kentucky is losing the best Zappos jobs here to Las Vegas. Business First and the Courier-Journal reported this as just a rebranding to Amazon from Zappos, with the Zappos outlet store staying. But our sources say top management in Shepherdsville is headed for Las Vegas. More as we figure this out …..
• Look for Jamba Juice to open on the 300 block of Fourth Street, the same block with the new Pot Belly Sandwich Shop and all the other restaurants. Jamba Juice went from a smoothie shack to full restaurant during the last few years. The Emeryville, Calif.-based chain has about 750 locations in 26 states along with stores in the Bahamas and cool place like that.