• Our sources are telling us not to be surprised if Todd Blue leaves Louisville, moving his base of operations to Houston, where he owns indiGO Auto Group. We called for more detail, reaching employees at Cobalt Ventures. They were extremely nice while telling us nothing. Blue did not return our calls.
This is not a good thing if he’s giving up on the city and the limited opportunities here. We hear comments from young investors and entrepreneurs about how they bump into each other early every Monday morning at Standiford Field, on their way out of town to make money before flying back at the end of the week.
This is another fact of Louisville business life no one in the power structure seems willing to address.
• Which segues nicely into another point: In Louisville, it’s a small world after all. It’s a big coup when Nucleus signs Atria to move four blocks away from the Central Business District. In Cincinnati, it’s a big deal when they sign a country from three continents away.
Last Monday, Cincinnati.com, the website for the Cincinnati Enquirer, had a long post on REDI Cincinnati, the Regional Economic Development Initiative. Executives at the city’s new economic development effort are crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of bringing new businesses and new jobs to The Queen City.
As far as we can tell, the only time GLI executives leave the country is to go to resorts in Jamaica to celebrate their big “victories.”
From the Cincinnati.com post:
REDI Cincinnati, along with (Joe) Dehner and other partners, is in the middle of an unprecedented globe-trotting campaign that this year will take teams to India, Israel, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain and all over the United States. The latest trip begins this weekend with a flight to Tel Aviv.
Dehner, by the way, is a lawyer who is chairman of Frost Brown Todd’s international practice. FBT used to have the same position here. He left town 15 years ago.
Family Dollar dead?
• Insiders are telling us the plan for the NuLu Family Dollar store is dead. The store was opposed from the first moment by NuLu creator Gill Holland and other investors and business owners on the grounds the strip-center discounter and its generic architecture wouldn’t fit into a neighborhood with historic buildings full of local merchants and restaurants.
Last January, 10 execs and consultants representing the Charlotte, N.C.-based Family Dollar attended the NuLu Business Association to field questions about the proposed store at 300 Baxter Ave. at the far east side on the Hunt Tractor property. It didn’t go well.
More as we know more.
A smart-growth Walmart?
• Along those same lines, look for opposition to the proposed Walmart at 18th Street and Broadway if Walmart carries through with plans to drop a suburban store into that densely populated section of the West End.
Nicholas Seivers has a compelling post on his Urban Composition website that explains how Walmart could become far more than just another big box, surrounded by asphalt parking lots. Seivers has a proposal for an urban-oriented, two-story Walmart that is a multi-use, multi-story, multi-phase transit-oriented plan for 1800 W. Broadway, complete with great illustrations of how the notoriously disruptive retailer could be a force for good.
Other sources sent us a Salon.com post from late last year explaining how cities typically do better when they back downtown inventive reuse rather than a new conventional store:
To explain, (architect Joe) Minicozzi offered me his classic urban accounting smackdown, using two competing properties: On the one side is a downtown building his firm rescued—a six-story steel-framed 1923 classic once owned by JCPenney and converted into shops, offices, and condos. On the other side is a Walmart on the edge of town. The old Penney’s building sits on less than a quarter of an acre, while the Walmart and its parking lots occupy thirty-four acres. Adding up the property and sales tax paid on each piece of land, Minicozzi found that the Walmart contributed only $50,800 to the city in retail and property taxes for each acre it used, but the JCPenney building contributed a whopping $330,000 per acre in property tax alone. In other words, the city got more than seven times the return for every acre on downtown investments than it did when it broke new ground out on the city limits.