Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
National real estate brokerage firm adds Louisville to its home valuation system
What a house is worth is dependent on numerous variables — what street it’s on, what other homes nearby have sold for, how large it is — so putting a specific value on a property can be tricky.
But Redfin, a national brokerage firm, has added Louisville to its Redfin Estimate service, which calculates the market value of an individual home. Redfin says it has a median error rate of 1.80 percent for houses that are on the market and 6.28 percent for houses not currently for sale.
The company introduced Redfin Estimate last year in a select number of markets while it tested and refined its algorithm. Just this week, it expanded into 80 new markets, including Louisville. It uses MLS data available for about 65 million homes to create its estimates.
“The Redfin Estimate is designed to serve as a starting point to help homeowners and home sellers determine their home’s value,” the company stated.
The new home valuation system comes into direct competition with home listing sites Zillow and Trulia. Last year, Zillow’s chief analytics officer Stan Humphries told GeekWire that Zillow would be “substantially more accurate” if it took Redfin’s approach — offering fewer estimates in easy-to-predict markets.
Zillow’s Zestimate program lists its margin of error at 5.4 percent for all houses. It uses public and user-submitted information about more than 100 million properties.
Trulia also uses publicly available data, such as the number of bedrooms and nearby home sales prices, to calculate its home value estimates. In 2013, its margin of error was 11.6 percent for Kentucky, according to the most recent information available. —Caitlin Bowling
Tapas restaurant adding onto its Holiday Manor location
Mojito Tapas Restaurant is famously delicious and famously small.
The Spanish and Cuban small plates restaurant sits in Holiday Manor Shopping Center, which has been undergoing major changes. Kroger spent $16 million to expand and upgrade its store there, as well as add online shopping. The Kroger in Holiday Manor is hosting a grand reopening on Nov. 2.
Apparently, Kroger isn’t the only one expanding though.
A city-issued building permit states that Mojito will be renovated and expanded. The entrance will be rebuilt, and additional space will be added on the backside of the dining room, the permit states. The outdoor seating area also will be enclosed.
The cost estimate of the work is $50,000, according to the permit.
Big Brothers Big Sisters kicks off Arts on Main to pair students with arts professionals
Last week, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana introduced an innovative School to Work program that pairs high school students from the Academy of Shawnee with local arts professionals. Titled Arts on Main, the mentoring program is the first of its kind nationwide for the organization.
Arts on Main has teamed up with organizations like Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Actors Theatre, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Louisville Ballet and Louisville Orchestra, to name a few, that will provide one-on-one mentor relationships with the students.
“As an educator, I firmly believe the arts are critical in a well-rounded educational experience,” said Lisa Herring, chief academic officer for JCPS, in a press release. “That’s why, right here in Louisville, where we have such an outstanding proclivity for the arts, JCPS is proud to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana … to help make sure every child is engaged and empowered by the arts.”
The program strives to get students involved in the arts, because arts classes in schools are dwindling. According to Shawnee student Trinity Williams, who has been paired up with a mentor at KMAC, it is providing her an opportunity she wouldn’t have had before.
“This program gets me out into my community, and it’s because of Arts on Main I’m seeing new things and learning new things,” she said in the release. “It’s pushing my dreams forward in a way I wouldn’t have known otherwise.” —Sara Havens
Up your WordPress game at WordCamp Louisville 2016
Registration is now open for WordCamp Louisville 2016, the daylong celebration of all things WordPress, the open source software that powers over 25 percent of the internet. There will be speakers and workshops for everyone, from newbies to professionals.
The event is on Nov. 12 at Sullivan College of Technology and Design, from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. The $20 ticket price includes refreshments, coffee, lunch and a T-shirt. WordCamp Louisville has been organized by members of the monthly WordPress Meetup group that convenes the second Tuesday of every month.
International workspace company expands in Louisville
Luxembourg-based flexible workspace company Regus has added new office space in Louisville, citing the city’s “unprecedented growth.”
Regus, which rents out flexible workspaces and shared workspaces, spent more than $1 million to build out a 13,049-square-foot office space at 9850 Von Allmen Court. The company also has space at 10200 Forest Green Boulevard, Suite 112, and the MET Building at 312 S. Fourth St., Suite 700.
“The wide business appeal of Louisville, keeps bringing new businesses to the city, and we are excited to be expanding our business solutions to meet this growing demand,” Jeff Doughman, the company’s executive vice president said in a news release.
Diamond Station closes suddenly: ‘exciting’ concept is said to be moving in
Less than two years after reopening, Diamond Station has abruptly closed.
A sign posted on the door informed customers:
“It is with deep regret that we tell you that, effective immediately, the Diamond Station is closing. For important personal reasons, we have chosen to accept an offer to buy out our lease from someone to use this space for a new and exciting concept. We cannot thank you enough for two full years of great people and good times, and will miss you very much.”
Diamond Station owner Brian Bruenderman closed the neighborhood bar down a few years ago and moved out of town. He later returned to Louisville and reopened Diamond Station in early 2015.
That time, he brought former Diamond Station bartender James Tyler on as a co-owner, according to a previous Insider Louisville article. The nearly 2,000-square-foot space dates back to 1928, according to county property records, and Bruenderman and Tyler renovated the space to restore the original tile walls.
The note did not give any other clues as to what will replace Diamond Station, and nothing was posted to the bar’s Facebook page. IL could not reach Bruenderman or Tyler.
Now available at Lucky’s Market: V-Grits vegan spreads
Kristina Addington, founder of the local vegan food truck V-Grits, is once again expanding her business.
This year, Insider Louisville reported that V-Grits is renovating a building at 1643 Portland Ave., where the company will operate a restaurant and production facility for its V-Box service, a weekly meal delivery service.
Work on that is expected to wrap up sometime next year.
In the meantime, V-Grits has introduced a line of vegan spreads called Soul Sauces and Soul Spreads. The first three products are cashew-based: a mild cheddar sauce, a mozzarella sauce and a pimento cheese spread. The products are now available at Lucky’s Market on Hurstbourne Lane.
“Our health doesn’t need to suffer, and we don’t need to support the inherently cruel factory farming industry — and the environmental devastation caused by it — to simply please our taste buds,” Addington said in a news release. “V-Grits exists to help families and individuals create a new habit of eating healthier meals.”
Well-known Louisville chef is opening a restaurant today
McGarity is no stranger to the Louisville restaurant scene, having most recently served as executive chef at Marketplace Restaurant at Theater Square, but this is the first establishment he’s owned himself.
Called The Fat Lamb, the restaurant focuses on American cuisine. Its menu features dishes including shrimp and grits, beef short ribs, bone-in pork chops, lamb ragu, spinach and artichoke dip, and a double cheeseburger.
McGarity has brought on chefs Brad Menear and Tim Piper to help in the kitchen and Brennon Staples to craft the cocktail menu.
The Fat Lamb is at 2011 Grinstead Drive, which was formerly home to a modern Southern restaurant and oyster bar called Fontleroy’s. Its owner, chef Allan Rosenberg, closed the restaurant and now works at Anoosh Bistro. The location is a challenge because it offers limited parking and the building facade is set back off Bardstown Road.
Hours of operation for The Fat Lamb are 5 p.m. “until late,” Tuesday through Saturday, according to The Fat Lamb’s website. In the future, McGarity also plans to add Sunday hours. Reservations can be made online. —Caitlin Bowling
Ford recalls some new Super Duty trucks
Ford Motor Co. is recalling some brand new F-Series Super Duty trucks made in Louisville because of greater risk for crashes and fires.
Ford said that 182 Super Duty 6.7-liter diesel Chassis Cab trucks, with midship fuel tanks, should be brought to the dealer so that the adhesive-mounted protective shield on the fuel conditioning module can be replaced with a bolt-on shield. Dealers will replace the module bottom cover with a metallic protection shield at no cost to the customer.
Ford said that road debris or water spray can dislodge the adhesive-mounted shield, which could allow debris or water spray to force open the module’s drain valve. That could allow air to enter the fuel system or produce a fuel leak, which would increase the risk of fire.
In addition, Ford said, “significant liquid fuel on the road surface may cause a slip hazard, increasing the risk of a crash” — though the company said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the inadequately attached shield.
Affected vehicles were built at Kentucky Truck Plant between March 21 and Aug. 28. Ford recently unveiled upgrades it has made to the plant.
Ford also is recalling Escapes because of potential fuel leaks — but the vehicles weren’t made in Louisville.
The automaker said this week that it is recalling about 411,000 2010 to 2012 Ford Escapes and 2010-2011 Mercury Mariners with 3-liter flex-fuel engines to replace the fuel delivery module flange assembly.
Potential fuel leaks near an ignition source may increase the risk of fire, the company said, although it is “not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with this issue.”
Dealers will replace the assembly at no cost to the customer, the automaker said.
Affected vehicles include Escapes built between Feb. 26, 2009 and April 29, 2012 at the Kansas City Assembly Plant.
Ford’s third-quarter profit plunges
Speaking of Ford: The automaker’s shares fell Thursday morning after the company reported that its third-quarter net income fell by more than 50 percent, to $1 billion, as revenue declined to $35.9 billion, down nearly 6 percent.
President and CEO Mark Fields said the company took some important steps in the third quarter, including the roll out of the all-new F-Series Super Duty, made at the Kentucky Truck Plant.
Ford’s European operations recorded its best results since 2007, and the Asia-Pacific division produced record pretax profit of $131 million, the company said.
“We remain on track to deliver one of our best profit years ever,” Fields said.
However, the report also points to a slowdown of Ford’s North American operations: Sales volume in the third quarter was down 11 percent from a year ago, while revenue fell 8 percent.
The company has idled various plants in North America, including Louisville Assembly Plant, because of slower sales.
UPS projects record holiday business
UPS expects to deliver more than 700 million packages this holiday season, up 14 percent over last year. That’s in part because the company said it will have two more shipping days than last year. Christmas, for example, falls on a Sunday this year.
Without the extra days, UPS said volume would have increased 5 percent.
The company said that the higher demand will prompt the hiring of more than 95,000 seasonal workers, such as package sorters, drivers and delivery helpers who ride with drivers. That’s up slightly from last year, when the company said it would hire between 90,000 and 95,000. Candidates can apply at UPSjobs.com.
“Online and mobile commerce is simultaneously creating new opportunities and challenges for the retail industry, yet a constant remains: the holiday season is the most important time of the year for retailers,” Kate Gutmann, senior vice president for UPS Sales and Solutions, said in a press release.
The company has previously said that it is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to update and expand facilities throughout the U.S. to meet the growing demand.
During its peak delivery period this year, from Dec. 19 to 23, UPS expects an average daily delivery volume of nearly 30 million packages.
The logistics company also said Thursday that its third-quarter net income rose 1 percent, thanks primarily to greater profitability in its international package business.
Revenue jumped 4.9 percent, boosted by solid growth in the domestic package business.
UPS also said Thursday that it plans to buy 14 new Boeing 747 freighters for $5.3 billion to meet increasing demand. —Boris Ladwig
UofL report projects more rural to urban migration in Kentucky by 2040
The Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville produced new population projections through 2040 for the state this week, estimating the population will grow by 10.4 percent. Though KSDC projected that the population of 41 counties within or adjacent to metropolitan and metropolitan areas will increase over the next 25 years, 66 percent of Kentucky’s counties encompassing rural areas will actually decrease in size.
Jefferson and Fayette counties are projected to have the largest numerical population gain – both adding over 100,000 – while counties bordering both will have the largest increase by percentage. The population of Scott County to Lexington’s north is projected to increase by 86.5 percent – the largest of any county – while Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Hardin counties bordering Louisville are among the top 10 in estimated percentage increase.
Most of the eastern Appalachian and rural western counties will face steep decreases in population, with Pike County in the east projected to lose the most people, with over 13,000, and Fulton County in the west decreasing by the largest percentage, 36.9.
KSDC director Matt Ruther tells IL these projected changes are a continuation of a trend of rural to metropolitan migration in Kentucky, as people move to larger areas because they offer a greater number and variety of jobs and more social and economic opportunities. The natural growth in births in these rural areas does not make up for that loss. Ruther says Kentucky’s overall growth rate is average among other states – slower than the rest of the South, but still greater than much of the Midwest and upper Northeast.
The report also projected that Kentucky will become more racially diverse by 2040, but will not come close to becoming a “minority-majority” state in which non-Hispanic whites make up less than half of the population, which states such as California, Texas and Arizona have recently become. The percentage of non-Hispanic whites in Kentucky is expected to decrease to 76.9 percent from 86.4 by 2040, with the total number of those individuals beginning to decrease by 2035. While the African-American population is projected to only slightly increase to 8.8 percent, the Hispanic population is estimated to rise from 3 to 7.8 percent, while other racial minorities increase from 2.8 to 6.5 percent. —Joe Sonka