Monday Business Briefing: Humana cites ‘mixed business results’ in curtailing bonuses; Google Fiber bid garners national press; Phoenix Hill update; and more

Welcome to the Feb. 22 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Humana CEO: 2015 performance not good enough for full bonuses

HumanaSome Humana managers have received bad news from the CEO, who told them they would not get full bonus payments because company performance in 2015 was below expectations.

The bonuses can play a significant role in some managers’ compensation. According to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, some employees can get more money through the bonus pay, or Management Incentive Plan (MIP), than through their base salary, while others can see bonuses that amount to 50 percent of their base salary.

Insider Louisville obtained a copy of an email CEO Bruce Broussard sent to MIP participants this month, telling them that while full-year adjusted earnings per share of $7.75 were in line with expectations, 2015 “was a difficult year with mixed business results and operational misses.

“Although some groups performed well, the organization as a whole did not meet our expectations in terms of financial performance, customer outcomes and compliance,” Broussard said. “Consequently, it would not be appropriate to provide full MIP payouts corresponding to our annual adjusted results.”

Broussard wrote that the company would work in the next few weeks “to determine the level and method for allocating any MIP payouts to ensure we have close alignment between performance and pay.”

The company would not say how many MIP participants are affected. Humana employs more than 12,000 in Louisville.

Spokesman Tom Noland told IL via email that the program “supports our philosophy that compensation should be market-based, competency-paced and contribution-driven. We design our programs to challenge participants as well as reward them for superior performance for our company and our shareholders.”

While the MIP participants await further news about their bonuses, Broussard asked that they “remain focused on their customers through the execution of our 2016 Business Strategy.” —Boris Ladwig

Gospel Bird set to debut Tuesday

Gospel Bird is located at 207 E. Main St. | Courtesy of Gospel Bird

Gospel Bird is located at 207 E. Main St. | Courtesy of Gospel Bird

New Southern restaurant Gospel Bird will open for dinner service at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The New Albany restaurant is the brainchild of chef Eric Morris, who has asked friend and chef Ethan Ray to join him in the kitchen.

“This is the restaurant of my dreams,” Morris previously told IL.

Gospel Bird will seat 105 to 120 people and only open for dinner to start.

The menu will cover a variety of Southern regions, including South Carolina, New Orleans and the Appalachian Mountains. Dishes will included butter beans, rotisserie chicken, cauliflower grits, chicken-fried rabbit and Brussel sprouts.

The restaurant also has a bar that will feature eight beers on tap, a cocktail menu and three flatscreen TVs.

A lucky few got to sample Gospel Bird’s food this weekend during two soft opening events; unfortunately, all the seats were taken. —Caitlin Bowling

Time Warner and AT&T’s failed fight against Google Fiber in Louisville garners national press

Google FiberThe online business and technology publication Tech Times wrote a story on Feb. 18 entitled “Google Fiber Wins Another Round In Battle With Time Warner Cable And AT&T.” The story recaps a saga that recently played out before Louisville’s Metro Council: TWC and AT&T teamed up to attempt to hinder Google’s access to city utility poles, arguing Google Fiber installation issues could disrupt service for its customers, causing outages.

TWC waved the red flag of “what if the power went out at a hospital because of Google installation issues.” AT&T marched out the equally scary “union violation issues.”

To no avail.

Metro Council unanimously voted to grant Google access, paving the way for them to lay fiber in our fair city, if they choose to do so. (That last bit is important.)

Tech Times writes: “If it does, however, Louisville residents will likely see some more positive changes this year. Should Google reach the area in the following months, TWC and AT&T will likely step up their game as well. This should translate into higher speeds at little or no additional costs.”

Bring it, Google! And bring the rainbow bunnies too! –Melissa Chipman

An updated look at Weyland’s Phoenix Hill developments

The Louisville Chemical Building has been abandoned for years. | Courtesy of Google

The Louisville Chemical Building has been abandoned for years. | Courtesy of Google

Louisville-based City Properties Group has made it its mission to transform the properties near East Jefferson and South Hancock streets into a walkable thoroughfare between the NuLu neighborhood and the University of Louisville medical campus downtown.

As previously reported, the real estate development and management company has two projects in the works at the northeast and northwest corners of Jefferson and Hancock streets — a 12-apartment complex with first-floor retail in the former Louisville Chemical Building and a roughly 100-room extended-stay hotel.

“This has been part of our master plan,” said Lee Weyland, operations manager for City Properties Group. “You are going to see a real strong street presence, and it’s going to be a much more walkable street.”

The extended stay hotel, which will operated under the flag Homes2 Suites by Hilton, will attract out-of-town residents in Louisville on business, while the apartments are expected to draw a young crowd.

Because each floor of the Louisville Chemical Building is only 4,200 square feet, the 12 apartments will be one-bedroom efficiencies ranging from 400 square feet to 600 square feet. The company will market the apartments to “young people who want to be near the restaurants and activity near NuLu,” Weyland said.

The building will have a laundry room on each floor and a small courtyard in the rear for residents.

“The amenity really is the character of the historic building and being so close to Nulu,” Weyland said.

City Properties Group is still looking for a company to open an office, a restaurant or a store to fill the available 3,260 square feet on the first floor.

Currently, the apartment project is seeking landscaping waivers from the city before moving forward, while the Home2 Suites already received a thumbs up from the city last month. Construction of the hotel is on track to begin in April, Weyland said, and will take about 12 months.

City Properties Group first started working at Jefferson and Hancock streets in early 2014 with the 173-unit [email protected] apartment complex. That property is now for sale.

“We are kind of testing the market,” Weyland said. “We think that looking at the national trends and even local trends, it is a hot property.”

Weyland declined to say how close City Properties Group is to a deal and added that the company plans to hold on to the Louisville Chemical Building well after it’s developed. —Caitlin Bowling

Southeast Christian Church building “Chapel in the Woods”

Southeast Christian Church logoSoutheast Christian Church is constructing a new nearly 40,000-square-foot facility less than a mile from its Blankenbaker Parkway campus.

The building, called Chapel in the Woods, sits on 18 acres along Moser Road. It includes a 16,780-square-foot traditional-style chapel, a 12,420-square-foot education wing and a 10,300-square-foot fellowship wing, according to plans submitted to the city. The plans also call for nearly 370 parking spaces.

The new facility will  provide “opportunities for additional worship service formats for young and old alike,” executive pastor Tim Hester said in a news release.

Young people looking to get married want more traditional-looking venues, according to the release, so the Chapel in the Woods will feature church pews, stained glass windows and a “picturesque” gazebo. The chapel also will fill a growing need for an alternative funeral space for Southeast Christian Church.

Construction will begin this year and conclude in spring 2017.

Mega-church Southeast Christian currently has three Louisville locations and another on Charlestown Road in New Albany Road. A fifth campus is under construction in LaGrange, and the church recently announced plans for a sixth in Elizabethtown. —Caitlin Bowling

Poe Companies sells Preston Gardens for $8 million

Preston Gardens is locates at 11011 Preston Gardens Court. | Courtesy of Preston Gardens

Preston Gardens is locates at 11011 Preston Gardens Court. | Courtesy of Preston Gardens

The 96-unit Preston Gardens apartments off Mud Lane has changed hands.

Louisville-based real estate development and management firm Poe Companies built Preston Gardens in 2013 and listed the property last year, along with three of its other apartment developments. This is the first to be sold.

The final sale price was $8.05 million, according to real estate company Commercial Kentucky. Craig Collins, executive director of Commercial Kentucky, and Mike Kemether of Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta Multifamily Advisory Group, represented Poe Companies in the transaction.

The new owner is Lakeshore Club LLC, a Louisville-based family-owned apartment management company. Louisville Attorney Jeffrey Stamper said he, his mother and his brother decided to buy Preston Gardens after selling a 50-unit apartment complex they owned and managed in Winter Haven, Fla.

Stamper’s mother and brother also have moved back to Louisville, and his brother will act as the full-time property manager.

Preston Gardens is currently more than 90 percent occupied, he said.

For the interim, they plan is to keep the rental rates the same, but that will be reviewed, Stamper said. Apartments range from $749 for a 754-square-foot unit up to $1,059 for a 1,131-square-feet unit.

The Stampers are also looking at adding amenities; however, Stamper declined to elaborate. —Caitlin Bowling

Korean taco truck expanding its operations

Photo Courtesy of The Traveling Kitchen

Photo Courtesy of The Traveling Kitchen

The Traveling Kitchen is adding a second traveling kitchen, and possibly a couple new employees.

“It is basically just demand,” said owner Pagva Victor.

Victor said he regularly receives requests for locations in Southern Indiana and the East End.

“I am sick of saying I couldn’t do it,” he said.

The food truck has been on the road since late 2011 selling Korean-fusion tacos, kimchi and pan-fried dumplings. Now, Victor has purchased a trailer that is roughly the same size as his food truck and will be towed behind a vehicle.

The shiny new trailer — a roughly $25,000 investment — was custom-made and will be outfitted for Victor’s specific needs. He hopes to have it up and running in early April in time for various festivals including Forecastle Festival. Companies can also request that the trailer park at their offices.

The trailer likely will offer an expanded menu as well, Victor said, noting that he wants to add a rice bowl to the menu.

The Traveling Kitchen remains popular despite increased food truck competition. Victor said he believes more people are opening food trucks because it can help them achieve their “American dream” without breaking the bank.

“A lot of people don’t have the money to open a restaurant,” he said. A food truck allows people to start out small, which is “awesome.” —Caitlin Bowling

More on nurseVersity including new products and rumor squashing

ptversityEarlier this month, MBB featured a brief update about Tony Leonard and nurseVersity and his participation in the 500 Startups accelerator program in San Francisco. Last week, IL sat down with him to go deeper into what he’s been up to since he dropped out of the Velocity accelerator program last year.

About that: As with any community, the startup community has a powerful rumor mill. Leonard told IL a bit about the actual reason he left Velocity. We followed up with former Velocity director Tony Schy, who declined to comment citing an agreement they made when the split occurred. So, we’ll just leave it at this: All the wacko rumors were false.

The online nursing test-prep company is still chugging along in Jeffersonville, Ind., and has an office in San Fran. Leonard said they have seven full-time employees. They’re still trying to decide which side of the river should be the company HQ. But, citing upcoming tolls, he’s probably staying on the north side.

nurseVersity now offers a seven-day free trial with no credit card needed. The most popular product is the “$299 ’til you pass” package.

They also have launched ptVersity for exams for physical therapists. Four schools are beta-testing that exam-prep.

ptVersity and nurseVersity are under a new umbrella. There’s a new look and feel for products with a better UI/UX. And in May, look for a product for dental hygienists launched with a local dental company tie.

Leonard said the universities like the product because if they license it, they can see exactly which questions are stumping their students and exactly which areas are the weakest.

The company already has 500 paid users in 2016. Leonard has had no investors thus far; he has self-funded and used winnings from pitch contests. He said he’s looking to start raising a seed round in May. —Melissa Chipman

Brown-Forman to announce “major gift” to local museum

Brown-Forman logoLouisville distiller Brown-Forman will announce “a major gift” Tuesday morning to the Speed Art Museum.

The museum has been closed for three years for a $60 million renovation and expansion and will reopen 10 a.m. March 12.

Brown-Forman will make the announcement at the museum. According to a press release, the ceremony will include Brown-Forman Vice Chairman Jim Welch, Speed Art Museum Chairman Bruce Merrick and a “special guest.”

Brown-Forman leaders have long supported the arts and frequently place works of art in buildings on the company’s Louisville campus.

The distiller will release third-quarter earnings on March 2. —Boris Ladwig

Fund for the Arts calls for nominations for first-ever Awards in the Arts event

Earlier this month, we told you about a new three-way partnership between the Fund for the Arts, Churchill Downs and the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation. The new alliance will help raise money for the Fund as well as create a new VIP event that highlights and awards the Louisville arts community. The inaugural Louisville Awards in the Arts will take place on Saturday, April 30, during Churchill Downs’ opening races, and its currently accepting nominations.

The community is encouraged to nominate both individual artists and organizations in a variety of disciplines — from visual artists to performers. Awards given out include a Lifetime Achievement Award, Emerging Leader in the Arts Award and a National Award in the Arts, among others. Click here for a full list.

“We created the Awards in the Arts to celebrate Louisville’s many accomplished artists and the positive impact of their work in our community,” said Christen Boone, president and CEO of Fund for the Arts, in a press release. “We look forward to local artists participating and seeing nominations for artists of all ages, backgrounds and artistic disciplines.”

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, March 1. —Sara Havens