A closer look at Nucleus campus plans, including old La Rosita building

Insider recently got a peek inside the former Icebreakers/La Rosita building that University of Louisville acquired in August, and we talked with Vickie Yates Brown, president and CEO of U of L’s Nucleus, about future plans for the Nucleus campus.

First, the La Rosita building: Turns out there have been discussions about connecting Nucleus’s iHub building and the former restaurant space on the corner of South Floyd and Market streets.

Brown 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. That being said, should a restaurant approach the University of Louisville Foundation about leasing the building, they’d certainly consider it. (The U of L Foundation’s focus on commercial real estate is nothing new.)

But there’s no firm timetable, Brown said. “We continue to explore options and are working to determine what is the best use of the property for the foundation, the campus and its tenants.”

Speaking of Nucleus tenants: Atria is set to move into the Nucleus building soon, which will bring the building’s occupancy up to around 600 people. Atria also has leased the auditorium because it brings in more than 3,000 people for training each year.

Initial plans for the Nucleus campus included four buildings and a garage. The next project is the 810-space parking garage, which is slated for completion by October 2015.

When asked about the timetable for the other buildings, Brown said: “It depends on how quickly we can bring tenants to the park. We’re working with entities on a constant basis that have interest in locating on the campus. We’re currently working with several that see the value of being in a university research park setting, although we can’t identify the potential tenants at this time.”

As we previously reported, the former owner of the La Rosita’s building approached U of L about selling the building. Is U of L interested in snatching up more real estate? Maybe The Connection nightclub, which has long been rumored to be moving?

Brown’s response: “We’re aware of the rumors. The University of Louisville Foundation continues to explore property acquisition opportunities in the area and will pursue those opportunities that make sense. There are no deals in the works to report at this time.”

That being said, she made it clear she has her heart set on the firehouse at 1135 W. Jefferson St.