The Closing Bell: Calvary Lutheran transitions to apartments; Butchertown Social is born; fish house in the works on Frankfort Ave.; 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.

Work has begun on Calvary Lutheran Church in Deer Park

Calvary Luthern Church has sat empty since 2015. | Courtesy of PRG Commercial Property Advisors

Construction is now underway on the 89-year-old Calvary Lutheran Church at 1838 Bardstown Road.

Insider reported last year that the church’s new owner NCS Properties planned to renovate the liturgical building into high-end apartments. NCS bought the property for $550,000.

Now, more than a year later, the city has issued a building permit for the project, which includes nine total apartments and a more than 3,000-square-foot restaurant space.

The renovations will cost between $3 million and $4 million, Sonia Sahni of NCS told Insider in an email. And the apartments will be available for occupancy by January 2018.

Something that isn’t often said about Highlands properties: It has parking. The property includes 25 off-street parking spaces that will be used by residents and restaurant guests.

The property hasn’t operated as a church for a couple of years and is one of multiple former churches that are being sold and repurposed. —Caitlin Bowling

Louis’s The Ton changes names, closes for upgrades

Louis’s The Ton is now The Butchertown Social. Note that the re-open date has changed to June 2. | Courtesy of Isaiah Hoagland

Butchertown bar Louis’s The Ton on Story Avenue is closed until Friday, June 2 — two weeks later than originally planned.

The bar, which recently changed hands, also is changing its name, adding food and getting some upgrades.

After about of month of running Louis’s The Ton, new owner Isaiah Hoagland said he was ready to take what he’d learned and make improvements.

The first change is the name. The business now will be known as The Butchertown Social.

“We are changing enough elements of the business that I felt like it warranted a new name,” Hoagland told Insider. “Plus, I felt like it would give a better description of the type of establishment we will be.”

Before closing and rebranding, The Butchertown Social already had started selling tacos for $3 to $4 apiece. Hoagland said those would remain on the menu, but the kitchen also is adding traditional pub food and vegetarian options for a few more dollars.

A performance stage is under construction as well, the backdrop of the bar will change and new furniture is being installed, Hoagland said. The walls will feature art from local artists that will rotate every month or two.

“We are hoping to give opportunity to up-and-coming artists who are looking to display their work,” he said.

The Butchertown Social’s hours of operation will remain 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday, but it will add brunch on Sunday mornings, opening at 11 a.m. The bar will close at midnight on Sunday.

Hoagland also is adding a trivia night on Mondays and a weekly Wednesday event with a deejay that will spotlight Butchertown distiller Copper and Kings American Brandy Co. —Caitlin Bowling

Fish house planned on Frankfort Avenue

The quality of the scanned rendering isn’t great but gives an idea of what Hooked on Frankfort will look like. | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

A former dry cleaner is slated to become a restaurant.

Documents were filed with the city this week seeking a conditional use permit that will allow a restaurant called Hooked on Frankfort to have outdoor dining and serve alcohol on the patio. The restaurant is proposed at 3202 Frankfort Ave. attached to the bar Patrick’s Lounge.

The documents don’t reveal much but they note that work on the interior already has begun, and drawings show a restaurant space with about 45 seats inside and outside.

Hooked on Frankfort is expected to be the second restaurant by David and Robert Alvey, who own Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot just two doors down. Insider spoke with one of the owners last year who said that they hoped to open a fish house concept in the former dry cleaner space but declined to talk about it at the time.

It seems that Hooked on Frankfort is that fish house.

When reached by text message, David Alvey told Insider that he wasn’t ready to talk about the new restaurant just yet, adding that he hopes the new patio will be completed within the week. —Caitlin Bowling

Omni Louisville hires to two top managers

Scott Stuckey | Courtesy of Omni Louisville

With just under a year left before it opens, the Omni Louisville has filled two key management positions.

Scott Stuckey was named general manager of the 612-room hotel, Omni Louisville announced. He will oversee all hotel operations, including sales and marketing, food and beverage operations, and risk management.

Stuckey has worked for the Omni Hotels & Resorts brand on-and-off since 2005 at hotels in Jacksonville, Fla., Bedford Springs, Pa., and Atlanta. He most recently worked as general manager of The Gwen in Chicago.

In addition to Stuckey, Omni has hired Nydia Hoskins to serve as hotel manager for Omni Louisville, the company announced. Hoskins has spent her entire hospitality career with Omni at properties including Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown and, most recently, Omni Nashville Hotel.

Once complete, the Omni Louisville will be 30 stories tall and include 225 luxury apartments, an urban food market, meeting space, multiple restaurants, a speakeasy with a bowling alley, a spa and a rooftop pool and cafe. —Caitlin Bowling

PRG takes over leasing of 111 Whiskey Row

Louisville-based PRG Commercial Property Advisors has taken over leasing operations for 111 Whiskey Row, the company announced in an email.

PRG is listing all commercial space within the development, the email stated, including 6,000 square feet of space on West Washington Street and 15,000 square feet on the second floor that could serve as offices, a music venue and/or large restaurant.

111 Whiskey Row is a more than $30 million redevelopment project that will wrap up construction next month. The project includes 12 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the third and fourth floors, but the developers left the lower floors open for commercial and office development.

Louisville-based real estate company TRIO Commercial Property Group was previously the leasing agent for the property, signing its first tenant Duluth Trading Co. The clothing retailer plans to open a 15,000-square-foot store at 111 Whiskey Row.

Justin Baker, a principal with TRIO Commercial Property Group, told Insider in an email that the company’s lease assignment was complete after it leased all of the space fronting Main Street to Duluth Trading Co.

“We wish the developers the best of luck with the remainder of Washington St and know that Whiskey Row will be a great addition to the momentum of downtown Louisville,” he said in the email. —Caitlin Bowling

Medical device maker to spend $2M to move to Jeffersontown

Medical device maker Isopure Corp. has purchased the former Kenmark Optical Inc. building at 11851 Plantside Drive in Jeffersontown. | Courtesy of Isopure

A medical device maker plans to invest about $2 million in moving its operations from Simpsonville to a 66,000-square-foot facility in Jeffersontown.

Isopure Corp., which designs and manufactures water purification and concentrate mixing devices for kidney dialysis, has bought the facility, at 11851 Plantside Drive in Bluegrass Commerce Park, from LM Properties IV.

Kevin Gillespie

The companies did not disclose the purchase price, but Isopure owner Kevin Gillespie said that in total, he expects to invest about $2 million into the project. The company has been approved for state tax incentives of about $300,000.

Gillespie told Insider that Isopure’s revenue grew 40 percent last year primarily because the company had been gaining market share thanks to its innovative solutions for the kidney dialysis market.

At the end of 2014, nearly 680,000 dialysis and transplant patients were receiving end-stage kidney disease treatments, according to the U.S. Renal Data System. Numbers rose sharply in the 1980s and 1990s but have fallen slightly since their peak in 2006, according to the National Institutes of Health. Medicare spending for patients with chronic kidney disease in 2013 exceeded $50 billion.

Most of the clinics that provide treatment mix the dialysis solution on-site, because it contains primarily water, which would be too costly to ship, Gillespie said. Federal regulators require that the clinics keep detailed records about their batches, such as when it was made, who made it and how much was made. One of Isopure’s machines mixes the solution to the same specifications every time and records all necessary data digitally, which reduces costs and staff time and improves consistency and record keeping, he said.

Isopure’s technology allows the company to gain market share and book significant revenue increases in an overall flat industry, Gillespie said.

Another concentrate mixing device that the company hopes to soon submit to the Food and Drug Administration for review probably would double the company’s revenue again, Gillespie said.

The advancements in the industry have provided significant relief to patients, he said. About a decade ago, when patients suffered significant kidney problems, the diagnosis was almost a death sentence, he said, whereas technology today can keep patients alive for many years.

Isopure employs 38, including in assembly, shipping, compliance, computer programming and engineering.

Gillespie said he chose the new location in part because he wanted to be able to retain most of his employees, about 60 percent of whom come from Louisville. The rest live in Simpsonville.

Proximity to the airport and UPS helped, too, he said, as Isopure sells about 95 percent of its products outside of Kentucky. Boris Ladwig

PharMerica shares dip on Q1 profit decline

PharMerica’s shares fell 1.6 percent Wednesday after the Louisville-based pharmacy services provider said that its first-quarter net income fell nearly 15 percent.

The company said in a press release that it recorded net income of $3.5 million, down from $4.1 million a year earlier. While first-quarter revenue jumped 8.1 percent, to $567 million, driven in part by acquisitions, costs of goods sold rose 8.2 percent.

Net income was dragged down by higher income taxes, which rose $1.2 million and higher net interest expense, which rose by $700,000.

Greg Weishar

CEO Greg Weishar said in the release that the company “posted a great first quarter” and is “well-positioned to deliver on 2017 financial objectives.”

He also said that the company recently acquired two businesses, CareMed Specialty Pharmacy and Home Care Solutions, which is allowing PharMerica to expand its home infusion business into Chicago.

The CEO had said in February that PharMerica this year planned to acquire competitors with combined annual revenue of $200 million, or about double its typical acquisition target from the last few years.

PharMerica provides drugs and drug management services to hospitals, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities and others. The company fills about 40 million prescriptions annually.

Nearly half of its revenue comes from Medicare Part D, a federally funded program that subsidizes prescription drug insurance premiums for the elderly.

Shares closed at $24.45 on Thursday, up slightly.  Boris Ladwig

City opens gigabit center in the Russell neighborhood

Courtesy of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

The city this week opened the PNC Gigabit Experience Center, which will provide free use of laptops, fast Internet access and training in an underserved area. City officials hope the space, at 1300 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., will attract budding entrepreneurs, foster startups and create high-paying jobs.

The center is part of Louisville Metro’s “digital inclusion strategy,” which aims to increase home internet access and provide Louisvillians with 21st Century skills. The project also received support from the PNC Foundation, Next Century Cities, Living Cities and the Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority.

The strategy’s ultimate goal, according to the city, “ is to create equity in access to technology and the internet for all Louisvillians.” Other efforts include free public Wi-Fi in the Russell neighborhood and an interactive data map.

“Innovating and opportunity feed off each other,” Mayor Greg Fischer said at the center’s opening. The Gigabit Experience Center “is another forceful step out into the city to make sure that everybody is involved with innovation.”

High-speed Internet access enables entrepreneurship, learning, recreation and provides all kinds of new opportunities to create relationships, meet new people and launch new businesses, the mayor said.

The center opens Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. and closes between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays and at 2 p.m. Saturdays. The pilot version of the center will be open through July.

The center was made possible through support from the PNC Foundation, Next Century Cities, Living Cities and the Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority. Boris Ladwig