The Closing Bell: Louisville Metro in talks with Airbnb on taxes; hop on ZeroBus to St. James; Allegiant takes off to Phoenix; and more
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.
Louisville in talks with Airbnb to remit local tourism taxes
Officials with the Louisville Metro Revenue Commission are in negotiations with Airbnb regarding how and when the popular short-term rental platform would remit local taxes to the city.
Currently, people renting their house or other properties out via Airbnb or another short-term rental site are simply held to the honor system. Less than 200 properties have been registered with the city and are paying the appropriate taxes, but there are an estimated 1,500 short-term rentals in Louisville.
If Louisville reached an agreement with Airbnb similar to its new partnership with the state of Kentucky, then Airbnb would collect and remit taxes for all hosts in Jefferson County, whether or not they are registered with the city.
“We remain engaged in proactive and productive conversations with Louisville policymakers, and we’re hopeful to secure an agreement that will allow us to collect and remit the transient tax on behalf of our hosts,” Benjamin Breit, a spokesman for Airbnb, said in an email to Insider. “We have seen the capacity of these tax agreements to bring new revenue to other cities, and we are all focused on a partnership to bring a similar economic infusion to Louisville.”
Based on Airbnb data and using the city’s 8.5 percent transient room tax, Breit estimated that Louisville could have reaped $710,000 in tourism tax revenue during the past year. The tourism tax goes into the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau budget.
City spokesman Chris Poynter confirmed that the two parties are in talks currently but said there is no timeline for when an agreement could be reached.
Louisville CFO Daniel Frockt told a Metro Council committee that more than 70 percent of short-term rentals in the city are listed through Airbnb.
TARC offers free rides to St. James Court Art Show
As we reminded you earlier this week, there’s a whole lotta festival going down in Old Louisville this weekend, thanks to the St. James Court Art Show. And TARC will be offering free rides from two locations downtown all three days as well.
From Oct. 6-8, you can grab a TARC ZeroBus on the Fourth Street Route at the Galt House, and it’ll haul you down to Second and Hill streets, near the art fest, every 20 to 25 minutes.
The first ride begins at 9:15 a.m., and the last return trip of the day is at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, 5:55 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday.
Or you can grab a special St. James ZeroBus near the Brown Hotel at Third and Broadway. For $6, you can park in the PARC garage and get a ride on the bus that’ll depart every 10 to 15 minutes. This route starts at 9:30 a.m. each day and departs the same St. James stop (at Second and Hill) at 6:15 on Friday, 6:20 on Saturday, and 5:10 on Sunday. —Sara Havens
Allegiant flight to Phoenix officially takes off
On Wednesday, Allegiant flew its first nonstop route from Louisville to Phoenix.
Flights leave Louisville on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with prices starting as low as $52.50 and going up to around $150 for one-way tickets as of Oct. 4.
The Phoenix flight is one of seven direct routes currently offered by Allegiant at the Louisville International Airport. In just more than a month, it will add an eighth route to Las Vegas, a popular bachelor/bachelorette destination.
During the announcement of the Las Vegas flight, Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said the company continues to add flights in Louisville because travelers have “embraced our service wonderfully.” —Caitlin Bowling
Bourbon & Beyond attracted more than 50,000 in its inaugural year
The numbers are in, and bourbon is proving to be as attractive as honey to bees. More than 50,000 people swarmed into town for the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond festival held Sept. 23-24 at Champions Park. Along with headliners like Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder and Steve Miller Band, bourbon took top billing, along with Southern-inspired food.
“In creating Bourbon & Beyond, one of the things I wanted to highlight is the similarity of the handcraftsmanship required to be a master distiller, great chef and performing musician. This festival is a celebration of that artistry and craftsmanship,” said festival creator Danny Wimmer in a press release. “I also wanted to create a platform to showcase what I discovered when I first came to Louisville: an authentic mix of Southern charm and cosmopolitan sophistication, wrapped in an unparalleled civic pride.”
He mentioned that he and his team are already planning next year’s event that will further deliver on the promise he made to Mayor Greg Fischer: “To build a one-of-a-kind, world-class event that reflects the culture, hospitality and uniqueness of Louisville,” he said. —Sara Havens
Beam’s new Little Book whiskey hits store shelves this month
This summer, we mentioned this new, highly anticipated Jim Beam release called Little Book. The title is the nickname of Freddie Noe, eighth-generation Beam family member, son of master distiller Fred Noe and grandson of the late Booker Noe. This is his first release, and he decided to go the blended whiskey route.
The news today is it hits store shelves this month for a suggested retail price of $79.99.
Insider caught a panel at last month’s Bourbon & Beyond that featured Fred and Freddie Noe talking about the business and their products — Booker’s and Little Book — and we were able to get one of the first tastes of the new whiskey.
Turns out Freddie is fascinated by the blending part of the business, and this product is a solid effort.
At 128.2 proof, it’s a blend of a 4-year-old straight bourbon whiskey, 13-year-old corn whiskey, 6-year-old malt whiskey and a 6-year-old high-rye whiskey.
We found it to be bold up front, due to the high alcohol count, with the familiar caramel and oak flavors showing themselves shortly after the initial burn. The corn mellows out some of the peppery characteristics, and the finish is long and strong. A little splash of water brought out even more caramel and dried fruit notes.
“My Dad, Booker, and I used to always say that if Freddie ever decided to join the family business, his distinct palate and nose, along with his eagerness to learn, would take him far,” said Fred Noe in a press release. “Freddie’s coming into his own as part of the next generation of whiskey makers, and I couldn’t be more proud to support him as he launches his first product.”
Northern Kentucky company acquires local home builder
Fischer Homes said it planned to retain Richard Miles, president of Dogwood Home, and his employees, who will run the Louisville division of Fischer Homes, building homes in Bullitt, Spencer, Oldham, Shelby and Jefferson counties. Miles will serve as market president for the company effective Jan. 1.
“Richard brings a wealth of home-building experience to our organization. He and his team have done an amazing job of growing their business in the Louisville market, and we look forward to their ongoing contributions to our business,” Tim McMahon, president and chief operating officer of Fischer Homes, said in the release.
Subdivisions that Dogwood has built locally include Glen Lakes, Catalpa Farms and Tuscany Ridge, among others.
Porter goes pink: West Sixth Brewing has teamed up with the Susan G. Komen Kentucky and will donate profits from its Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter starting this week to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The company has changed the color of its plastic six-pack holder from purple to pink to remind people of the cause, which supports breast cancer research.
With the opening of the 30-story Omni Louisville hotel and residence just about six months away, the hotel has pre-booked in excess of 100,000 room night, according to Eamon O’Brien, director of sales and marketing for Omni Louisville. The hotel has a total of 612 rooms.
LEO Weekly released the winners of its 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards, with new categories this year including best restaurant by neighborhood, best IT support and best place to take your cat. Also, the publication announced winners from older categories such as media. Insider Louisville popped up a few times: third-place best local blog; second-best local publication (after LEO); best local website; and Sara Havens was named the third-best local writer; and Joe Sonka had the third-best Twitter feed, according to LEO readers (thank you, Insider fans!).