Welcome to the Jan. 12 Monday Business Briefing.
This is your private business intelligence briefing with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.
We have a mixed bag for you to kick off the week, from talk of Red7e staffers fleeing the firm, to a star cancer doc parting ways with the U of L Medical School. But first, more on that fancy new hotel tower on the horizon…
With Omni deal, hotel giant will decide fate of historic buildings
There are known knowns and there are known unknowns, someone in a high place once said. That’s certainly true of the fate of the five historic buildings that occupy the footprint of Louisville’s next skyscraper.
We don’t yet know whether Omni Hotels — as part of its blockbuster (ahem) deal to put a 30-story, 600-room hotel tower at the old Water Company site — will choose to preserve any of the historic character of the block. But we do know it’s entirely their decision.
The former headquarters of the Louisville Water Company, which opened in 1910 and housed LWC until 1988, is among five historic buildings on a block that also contains the old Falls City Theater building and the connected Morissey Garage, which dates back to 1920 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Marvelous though they are, the latter two have long been unoccupied and fallen into disrepair.
Twice in the past decade, the group Preservation Louisville has placed the entire block on its annual Top 10 Endangered Historic Places list, and with good reason: Developers and the city — which owns all the properties — have been hawking the prime downtown plot for years.
Now, according to the city’s $289 million agreement with Omni, the hotel giant can do whatever it wants with the buildings: The deal ends the possibility of any historic protections for the site as it is.
At a news conference last week to announce the deal, both Mayor Greg Fischer and Omni CFO Mike Garcia said no one has made any decisions about the fate of the buildings.
Preservation Louisville Executive Director Marianne Zickuhr tells IL she hopes Omni will work with them to preserve some of the architectural history of the block.
“Our hope — and this is across the board, no matter who’s the player in the game — is that they respect the historic integrity of the buildings that are there,” she said. “With a creative and forward-thinking plan, a development could really utilize these buildings.”
If you wanted to learn more about the history of the site, we were planning to point you to the comprehensive history of the site that the Louisville Water Company posted on its website the day after the Omni announcement. Mysteriously, though, it has since disappeared.
U of L School of Medicine loses a star
If you felt like you didn’t have enough drama in your 2014, you probably weren’t following the University of Louisville.
The dean of the business school left abruptly after less than a year on the job, following a reported beef with staff.
The School of Medicine was placed on probation by its accrediting agency for, among other things, lack of curricular oversight and (!) not having enough seats for students. (U of L reported last month the probation was lifted after the university made necessary facility investments and classroom improvements.)
Dr. Roger Herzig, former head of U of L’s bone marrow and stem-cell transplant program, defected to the University of Kentucky, which has far outpaced U of L in transplant procedures during the past several years.
The turmoil at the Brandeis School of Law — we can’t even.
And this week, a star cancer doc and researcher departs the institution: Dr. Sharmila Makhija, internationally renowned Donald E. Baxter Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chairman of the Department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health at U of L’s School of Medicine. She’s leaving to run that department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in the Bronx.
Per the announcement:
Dr. Makhija’s clinical and research focus is on gynecologic cancers, particularly ovarian and uterine cancers. She has participated in numerous clinical trials and translational research projects centered on developing targeted therapeutics and gene therapies and improving cancer guidelines and management. She has also championed the extension of cervical cancer clinical trials to underserved women, particularly in India, as well as participated in the HIV Prevention Trials Network.
You might remember Makhija from another role at U of L: She was a prominent public advocate — alongside President James Ramsey — for the hospital mega-merger that became KentuckyOne Health.