There was a business report out of Detroit earlier this month that reached all the way to Louisville and caused tremors along the ground around South Fourth and Broadway.
Jonathan Holtzman, the colorful scion of the family that started the Village Green real estate development company 96 years ago, has left the company and sold his remaining ownership to Compatriot Capital, the real estate division of Sammons Enterprises, the diversified Dallas-based holding company, that had acquired 50 percent of Village Green in 2011.
Crain’s Detroit, the business newspaper that broke the story, suggested there was a rift between Holtzman and Compatriot Capital, not all that unusual when a freewheeling entrepreneur butts heads with incoming corporate suits from out of town. At least, that’s how Crain’s slanted the story, portraying Holtzman as a “brilliant mind” but with a temper that’s “also the stuff of legend.”
Holtzman, who had been Village Green’s chairman and chief executive officer, has formed a new development company, City Club Apartments LLC. And, in a complicated transaction, he “has acquired a majority of the ownership interests in certain apartment communities owned by the company, while Compatriot assumed ownership and control of Village Green, including its property management, development, construction and marketing operations.”
So it was big news in Detroit. But what does it have to do with Louisville?
Only this: If the name Village Green sounds familiar to your ear, it’s because it was the company that bought – at long last – The 800 apartment building at Fourth and York last summer, with plans to restore it to some semblance of its one-time grandeur. The 50-year-old, 29-story residence would finally get some loving attention, a makeover and a new name (800 Tower City Apartments), and at a time when Louisville is sorely in need of prime downtown rental units.
But the dense business arrangement, worked out by Holtzman and Compatriot Capital – and reported just as densely by Crain’s Detroit – suggested that 800 Tower City might be changing owners yet again. Holtzman will retain some of Village Green’s book of business, Compatriot Capital will retain the rest.
Say it ain’t so! Was it all too good to be true?
When Village Green acquired the building at auction, Holtzman was all over the local news – including an in-depth interview with Insider Louisville – lavishing praise on Louisville, enthusiastic over the fit of his new property with his new city, saying all the right things about the property, the neighborhood and the future.
“It’s a spectacular location!” he told us in December, defending the neighborhood-in-flux that some are trying to call SoBro, in the hopes that what’s-in-a-name can overcome all challenges. “Across the street is a Cadillac dealership, the hallmark of luxury. Across the street is an incredibly gorgeous public library.
“To the north is the world-class Brown Hotel, and Kindred is building a brand-new 250,000-square-foot office building. Behind us is an historic neighborhood with historic homes. Around us is Spalding University and all the growth it’s experiencing.
“And we’re in the midst of a college campus, a medical center and Churchill Downs. You can walk to the hospitals, to Spalding, to Kindred, to downtown and the river.”
Holtzman outlined a plan for the building that went beyond just renovating the apartment units. He talked about a rooftop swimming pool, a movie theater, a gourmet kitchen with room service, a new high-profile restaurant moving in.
Is it now back to square one for The 800 Tower?
There’s an old rule in journalism about what to do with the lead of your story: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, and why, right up front.” I’ve just violated that rule.
Because the impact of all this on The 800 Tower is, apparently, no impact at all. According to a Village Green spokesman, Roger Tertocha, “Nothing will change in regards to 800 Tower City Apartments. Jonathan Holtzman is still the owner and Village Green is the management company.
“The new lobby, theater and leasing center are opening very soon. The rooftop pool and Sky Club will open soon after that this summer. We are anticipating a grand opening event in July or August.”
So, Roger, to reiterate?
“Jonathan Holtzman was the managing partner in the building, with others, and still is.”