Monday Business Briefing: Butchertown attracts PYRO Gallery, creative collective; Distillery Commons seeks restaurants; Mama’s Hip turns co-op; and more

Welcome to the April 24 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

PYRO Gallery to relocate to Butchertown later this summer

PYRO Gallery is now located in a strip mall at 909 E. Market St. | Courtesy of PYRO Gallery

After nearly five years in NuLu, PYRO Gallery will be relocating to the now-thriving Butcherblock area of Butchertown by the end of this summer.

PYRO director Chip Norton tells Insider the gallery has been scouting locations as its lease is expiring soon, and the art collective can’t think of a better place than joining the Butcherblock retail community.

“Our current space is kind of hidden,” he says of 909 E. Market St. “I really think the collaborative opportunity Butcherblock offers will be a better place for us to be. I didn’t see another space that would be better for our business. We as a group believe this is a good choice for us.”

Butcherblock, a row of new storefronts situated on East Main Street and East Washington Street, is owned by developer Andy Blieden, who also runs Butchertown Market. Norton says working with Blieden on the concept of the new gallery space has been easy and effortless.

PYRO will take over two buildings on East Washington Street — 1004 and 1006 — and will connect them in the back, which will create an additional gallery space between the two. The 1,800-square-feet of space will provide the artists with five distinct galleries.

“The square footage is actually smaller than what we have now, but the design is going to give us more hanging space for art,” says Norton.

The Butcherblock development currently includes shops Stag + Doe, Louabull, Pho Ba Luu, Hi-Five Doughnuts, First Light Gallery and the soon-to-open Red Hot Roasters.

Norton hopes to have the gallery open and operational by September, and they’ll continue exhibiting shows in their current space in NuLu until then. —Sara Havens

Creative collective moving to Butchertown

James Lindsey formerly performed as JaLin Roze | Courtesy of James Lindsey

In the same building as PYRO Gallery, another new business is moving in.

An as-yet-unnamed creative collective will fill office space above the gallery, a partner in the venture told Insider.

The collective is similar to Saving Our Style, which has produced multiple events in Louisville including Bourbon + B Sides, said Sylvanus Hudson, who helped create Saving Our Style and is a partner in the venture.

The collective also will include a deejay, people experienced creative marketing and a photographer, Hudson said. They will work together on different projects and events as well as do their own thing.

Musician James Lindsey, formerly known as JaLin Roze, also is a partner. He described it as “mixed-use creative space.”

Hudson and Lindsey said they wanted to keep other details under their hats for now. However, they did say that they expect to open in August. —Caitlin Bowling

Herelancer removed from Venture Sharks competition for grand prize

One of the four finalists of the Venture Sharks competition has been removed from consideration for the Grand Prize but will still compete and be eligible for the audience award.

Herelancer, an online local freelancer marketplace, is helmed by lawyer Rachel Dickey and Venture Connectors board member Zack Pennington.

Yesterday, the company posted the following to Facebook:

“Rachel Marie Dickey was recently informed that Herelancer will not be eligible for the Venture Sharks Grand Prize. This is not the result of any wrongdoing on our part and we did not break any rules. However, because our co-founder Zack Pennington is on the Venture Connectors board, and the board has a sincere desire to avoid any appearance of favoritism that might result if we won, it was decided that it would be best to remove us from the running.”

The post goes on to say that Venture Connectors will update the contest rules so that this never happens again.

The other four companies are Uber for asphalt, META Construction Technologies; sterile mouse maker, Toggle Health; and fire alarm for the deaf, Lifebit.

Judges for the 2017 Venture Sharks final round are Bob Saunders, general partner, OCAVentures; Elizabeth Rounsavall, growth capital consultant, Rounsavall Investments; Lou Kelmanson, president, Kelmanson Holdings; and Vik Chadha, managing director, GlowTouch Technologies.

The finals will be held during the Venture Connectors’ May luncheon on May 3 at the Muhammad Ali Center. Details and tickets online. —Melissa Chipman

Distillery Commons looking to bring three restaurants to Lexington Road, Payne Street

Distillery Commons is looking for three restaurants to fill spaces at the office and retail building. | Courtesy of Horizon Commercial Realty

With Headliners Music Hall next door and the new apartments, Axis on Lexington, open across the street, Ray Schuhmann, owner of the office and retail space Distillery Commons, is looking to bring another key industry to the highly trafficked corner.

Schuhmann recently hired Horizon Commercial Realty to market three empty spaces in the historic former distillery as potential restaurant locations.

“Ray’s vision is that, with the increasing office users in there, the restaurant concepts or brew pub helps really fill out everything,” said Nando Treviño, a broker with Horizon.

He added that they are looking for restaurants to cater to office tenants during the day as well as apartment residents and the Headliners crowds at night.

Per-square-foot rental rates haven’t been set, Treviño said, but it would likely be in the low teens.

Suzanne Day Cheek, also a broker with Horizon, said Distillery Commons gives restaurateurs access to the same crowd that hangs out in the nearby Highlands neighborhood, but unlike many Bardstown Road establishments, it has parking.

“That entire area really is changing,” Day Cheek added.

Notably, Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) doesn’t want the area around Payne Street and Lexington Road to change too rapidly. Hollander sponsored an ordinance that passed Louisville Metro Council, which places a 180-day moratorium on certain kinds of development along a section of Lexington Road because the corridor has a hodgepodge of zoning.

“Our intention is not to hold up all development along this stretch, but just make sure the development is compatible,” Hollander previously said.

The Courier-Journal reported last week that a concrete plant wants to open across from Distillery Commons; however, plans can’t move forward because of the moratorium. —Caitlin Bowling

Apartment developer’s lawyer says project will stagnate without government incentives

The development, as proposed, includes 270 apartments and 11,550 square feet of retail. | Courtesy of Flournoy Cos.

After telling Louisville Metro Council members in March that a luxury apartment project in NuLu might not be able to go forward, Bingham Greenebaum & Doll partner Jeffrey McKenzie sent a letter to the city’s economic development arm Louisville Forward saying the project is “financially infeasible” if the developer must include 18 workforce housing apartments — despite the fact that developer previously agreed to include the below-market-rate units in the project.

The developer McKenzie represents, Flournoy Cos., has asked the city to approve just more than $5 million in potential tax incentives through a TIF (tax increment financing) to help defray the cost of the $56 million apartment project. In return, the city asked Flournoy to rent 18 of its apartments at a lower monthly rate than the project’s other 252 apartments.

In the letter sent to Louisville Forward, McKenzie proposed giving a $500,000 cash donation to the city in return for not having to include the workforce housing in the development. Including the cheaper units, he said, would cost the developer $1.5 million over 20 years and mean that the equity investors on the project would not see the return on investment needed for them to move forward.

“Failure to incentivize Flournoy or other potential developers in the downtown area, a purpose explicitly contemplated by the TIF legislation, will mean a failure to attract much-needed population density to the downtown area,” McKenzie said in the letter.

He concluded the letter by saying that if the city did not accept the cash donation in lieu of the workforce housing requirement, then “this letter will serve as notice that Flournoy will not proceed with the project due to economic constraints.”

Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) said in a council meeting last week that she would not back down from requiring workforce housing in the development.

“I find that unacceptable at this point,” she said. “However, as the primary sponsor, I am very encouraging this body to keep the conversation and the negotiation alive because we very much need the residential development in the NuLu area and it’s a wonderful project.”

It isn’t clear whether the residential development is collapsing or if the developer is simply playing hardball. McKenzie has not returned requests for comment. —Caitlin Bowling

Mama’s Hip is doing something ‘radically different’

Last week, Shannon Stone Porter, owner of Mama’s Hip announced on Facebook that the natural parenting store and resource center would become a cooperative.

“We want to help our community stay sustainable and grow in life-giving ways that benefit all members. We want to do something radically different. And we want YOU to be a part of it!”

June 1 the business will become Mama’s Hip Family Cooperative, where every Member Family gets a vote on community issues. Families pay membership fees and receive discounts to the retail store and access to various groups depending on the membership level. Founding members receive lifetime memberships for $100. Membership prices range from $25-$100.

You don’t have to be a member to go to Mama’s Hip. That isn’t changing. In fact, not much is really changing at all. “The great news is that you are supporting this inclusive and accessible model by just doing what you’ve been doing at Mama’s Hip,” wrote Porter on Facebook. “Please continue to come in and show up exactly as you’ve been, just as you are!”

In order to become a member, you must sign off on the guidelines, which are mostly about maintaining Mama’s Hip’s openness and acceptance to all.

Porter told IL that she’s been in business for almost 10 years and that she wants to keep offering “agenda-free support to families,” but that neither nonprofit nor for-profit models seemed to fit for Mama’s Hip. But she took a workshop on co-ops around a year ago, and she realized that it seemed like a right fit for this community.

She hopes that this new structure will help Mama’s Hip “maintain and extend its mission,” she said. —Melissa Chipman