The Closing Bell: Collegiate approves plans for $12 million addition, new Clifton apartments now for lease, Fund for the Arts launches app, 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.

Collegiate board approves $12 million addition, construction slated to begin this spring

Rendering of the new dining common

Rendering of the new dining hall | Image courtesy of Collegiate

Shortly after spring break, Louisville Collegiate, a private co-ed school located between Glenmary Avenue and Grinstead Drive in the Highlands, will break ground on a three-story addition to the campus. This building will connect the high school to the middle school on land that currently is a gravel parking lot.

The school, which serves students in junior kindergarten through 12th grade, also plans to build a new two-story “learning commons” building with a focus on technology.

Earlier this month, the school’s board approved final plans for the new construction, which will add approximately 50,000 square feet. The plan is for all construction to be complete by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The new three-story building will house a dining hall, space for the visual and performing arts, a black box theater and a gallery. Arts classes and activities currently are housed in a building that fronts Grinstead Drive. Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Tracie Catlett said it would be preferable for kids not to have to cross the street and walk half a block to attend arts classes, for safety reasons among others. There is no current plan for the existing building once it is vacated.

The existing dining room, in the historic Glenmary Avenue building, will become the school’s new makerspace, which currently is in the basement.

The school also is razing its library in April and building a “learning commons,” which will focus on technology and interdisciplinary work. Staff will be available to help students use digital media for learning, though there still will be some books. Donors Bill and Lindy Street have chosen to name the hub for innovative learning after his parents: The Dan & Frances Street Learning Commons.

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The photo to the right includes renderings of the new Learning Commons and Dining, Performing and Visual Arts Building. | Image courtesy of Collegiate

A new service road for the school also is being constructed off of Ray Ave.

Almost exactly a year ago, Collegiate bought the old Burger’s Market for $1 million. The building and parking lot are being used by Wehr Construction, the construction managers for this project, as a staging area for all the developments on campus.

Shortly after Collegiate bought Burger’s they bought the Yorktown Apartments, also on Grinstead. The apartments are run by a property manager, and there are no plans for development at this time.

The school’s capital campaign, Second Century Campaign, has raised $11.6 million of its $20 million goal, under the leadership of Ceci Conway Boden, class of 1985.

This is Collegiate’s centennial year. –Melissa Chipman

Now leasing: Milhaus finishes Frankfort Avenue apartments

AMP Apartments is located in the heart of Clifton. | Courtesy of Milhaus Ventures

AMP Apartments is located in the heart of Clifton. | Courtesy of Milhaus Ventures

Indianapolis-based real estate company Milhaus Ventures is leasing its recently constructed 93-unit AMP Apartments.

The complex is located at 2030 Frankfort Ave. and includes studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Each unit features quartz countertops, wood-style flooring, walk-in closets, energy-efficient GE appliances, USB ports built into the walls and fiber optic Internet, according to its website.

AMP Apartments are pet friendly and smoke free, with indoor bike storage, private garages, private storage rooms and 24-hour maintenance. Rental rates range from $885 to $1,690, the website states.

The project has been in the works since at least early 2014.

Milhaus Ventures was in talks with Louisville’s Poe Companies last fall to buy three of its apartment buildings. Talks have since stopped, and Poe Companies’ properties are still on the market. —Caitlin Bowling

Legal Aid Society names new executive director

Neva-Marie Polley

Neva-Marie Polley

The Louisville Legal Aid Society has named Neva-Marie Polley its next executive director.

The organization, founded in 1921, provides legal services to people in poverty.

Polley joined the organization in 2005 as a staff attorney and advocated for low-income domestic violence victims. She will step into her new role Feb. 1, succeeding Jeff Been, who said last summer that he would retire after 23 years with the organization.

During her time with the Legal Aid Society, Polley, among other efforts, developed the Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, which helps domestic violence victims in court maters, including protective orders. The program helps about 800 clients a year, the society said in a press release.

“Polley has a long, successful history of standing up for our clients in the courtroom and elsewhere, as evidenced by her results for clients and numerous community awards,” said Jim Straus, Legal Aid Board president and chair of the search committee.

Polley holds a law degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. She formerly worked at the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office. Her numerous awards include the 2014 Judge Richard Revell Award, with which the Louisville Bar Association recognizes the family law practitioner of the year. —Boris Ladwig

Fund for the Arts to launch interactive mobile app

FundAppFund for the Arts has partnered with the Humana Innovation Center to create Louisville Arts Link, a mobile phone app that’ll round up information, schedules and details on local arts events.

“Our goal for the app is to help promote local arts opportunities while increasing event attendance, engagement and awareness,” said Christen Boone, Fund for the Arts president and CEO, in a press release. “The arts are everywhere in Louisville, and Louisville Arts Link will make it so easy for our residents and guests to enjoy and benefit from them.”

Along with events, the app will offer discount tickets and packages for Fund supporters and include a special interface for donors, where if you donate at least $52 a year, you can access exclusive offers and specials. The app also will allow you to donate to the Fund.

Louisville Arts Link was created by a team of volunteers from the Humana Digital Experience Center.

“The Digital Experience Center team is proud to have volunteered to co-create the app with the Fund, its constituents and supporters,” said Antonio Melo, director of the Center. “It is a meaningful and tangible way for us to give back to the vibrant arts community in Louisville that we consider to be among the city’s great treasures.”

The app launches at Fund for the Arts’ annual campaign kickoff on Tuesday, Feb. 2. It’ll be available at your phone’s App Store starting then and is compatible with all iOS devices. —Sara Havens

NuLu is a place every woman should go …

NuLu doing NuLu.

NuLu doing NuLu.

Super hip, high-end style blog Refinery 29 came out with a list of “The Places Every Woman Should Go In 2016,” and yep, we made the list. The list would probably more aptly be titled “The Places Every Woman Who Has No Job, Endless Wealth, No Fear For Her Personal Safety Or Of Contracting Zika Should Go In 2016.”

Seriously, the list is enough to make anyone with even the slightest travel bug dizzy.

Predictably, the Louisville that the author, Alexandra Cheney, is really talking about is basically 21c and NuLu. “Predictably,” because read her opening paragraph:

Freshly picked, the yellow-skinned papaya oozed as Barbara Hau’ofa, a lean, salt-and-pepper haired Australian book editor, slid half the fruit my way along with a spoon. The ceiling fan softly creaked as Hau’ofa sprinkled garlic, an edible Fijian mosquito repellent, across her half of papaya. The sun was fresh in the early morning sky as she leveled her eyes with mine and firmly stated that if I didn’t keep writing, I would lose track of my life.

Louisville is nestled in between the Australian Gold Coast and Cote D’Azur on the list. Cheney name checks Harvest, Please and Thank You, Butchertown Grocery and others. –Melissa Chipman

Best Places to work in Kentucky

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management just announced the 100 companies that made the 12th Annual Best Places to Work in Kentucky list, and Louisville businesses dominated, nabbing more than half the spots.

Winners were selected in three categories: small companies of 15-149 employees, medium companies of 150-499 employees, and large companies consisting of more than 500 employees.

Local honorees ranged from small businesses like Delta Dental and Kerr-Greulich Engineers, to mid-size operations like Genscape and Hosparus, to large companies like Papa John’s Corporate and Sazerac. Check out the whole list here.

“The selection process, managed by Best Companies Group, is based on an assessment of the company’s employee policies and procedures and the results of an internal employee survey,” according the chamber.

The final rankings will be announced at an awards dinner on April 20 in Lexington. –Melissa Chipman

International sales expected to fuel Papa John’s growth

Photo by Ildar Sagdejev

Photo by Ildar Sagdejev

Louisville-based pizza company Papa John’s International is expecting new stores and growing sales internationally to drive its business in the future, according to a presentation given at the Jefferies 5th Annual Winter Consumer Summit.

Steve Ritchie, Papa John’s president and chief operating officer, and Lance Tucker, the company’s chief financial officer, spoke at the summit, which included presentations from various restaurant executives.

Papa John’s expects to add 150 to 200 international stores annually, and as of late September 2015, the company has 970 franchisee-owned stores in the pipeline, according to the presentation. Recently, Papa John’s announced an expansion into France and another into Spain.

The pizza chains international operations will become “the biggest driver of (earnings per share) in the long term,” the presentation states. International same-store sales were expected to increase 6 percent to 8 percent in 2015. Final numbers for the year haven’t been released yet.

Similar to Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc. and McDonald’s Corp., Papa John’s plans to franchise most of its international locations. The company is looking to re-franchise some of its company-owned stores in China this year. Notably, Yum Brands plans to re-franchise its China stores as well as part of its company split.

Although most of Papa John’s growth potential is overseas, the company is still looking to build its brand at home by offering incentives to first-time franchisees. New franchisees this year will receive two free pizza ovens and credit toward their first food order from Papa John’s. The 2016 franchisee deal also eliminates the franchise fee and reduces the royalty payment for several years, according to the presentation. The total value is more than $60,000. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville design firm chosen to lead $30 million Lexington project

The former Fayette County courthouse. | Courtesy of KNBA.

The former Fayette County courthouse. | Courtesy of KNBA.

A Louisville architectural design firm has been chosen to lead a $30 million renovation project of the former Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington.

K. Norman Berry Associates Architects was chosen from seven firms that offered proposals.

KNBA said in a press release that it had opened a Lexington office near the former courthouse to “provide dedicated service to the project.”

The courthouse was built between 1898 and 1900 in the Romanesque style, but it has been closed since 2012 because of environmental and structural concerns. The rehabilitation project will involve public access, parking, landscaping and turning the structure into “a major downtown mixed-use activity hub” that may host events and house offices, stores and restaurants.

KNBA Principal Bob Haffermann said, “We are so excited to be part of the team that brings this iconic structure back to life and we look forward to developing the kind of significant long term relationships that will keep us active as a community partner for years to come.”

KNBA, a 16-person firm founded in 1971, has worked on projects including the Speed Art Museum, the Kentucky State Capitol, the Jefferson County Jail, the Louisville Water Co., the 21c Museum Hotel, Middletown Christian Church, Midway College, Brown-Forman Founders Hall, Riverpark Place, the Frazier History Museum and Louisville Slugger Field. —Boris Ladwig

Ford to exit Indonesia, Japan

Black_Ford_Fiesta_X100_-_008Ford is abandoning Japan and Indonesia because it does not foresee a way in which it can generate profits there, Reuters has reported.

Citing an internal document, the news agency said this week that “Ford will exit all areas of business, including shuttering dealerships and stopping sales and imports of Ford and Lincoln vehicles.”

According to media reports, Ford made the decision as it struggles to compete with Japanese brands.

“Japan is the most closed, developed auto economy in the world, with all imported brands accounting for less than 6% of Japan’s annual new car market,” a spokesman said in an email, according to the Associated Press.

Japanese consumers bought about 5 million new vehicles last year; Ford sold only 5,000. —Boris Ladwig

Learn how the bridge tolls will work

Few residents in Louisville or Southern Indiana will remember the last time a bridge over the Ohio River was tolled. That’s because there hasn’t been one in 70 years.

But even if someone did remember the tolls, the high-tech system being installed on the Abraham Lincoln Bridge, the John F. Kennedy Bridge and the new East End Bridge is a drastic departure from the tolling system of the past.

To acquaint drivers with the new tolling system called RiverLink, the Ohio River Bridges Project is hosting a dozen meetings in February and March where people can learn more about the all-electronic system, the different transponders and the various payment methods, as well as ask questions. Representatives from the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) will be there to talk about cross-river routes and Louisville’s ride-sharing program.

All the open houses are from 5:30 to 7 p.m., except the meeting at the Portland Community Center on Feb. 23, which will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Below is a comprehensive list of the open houses:

RiverLink open house

For a primer, check out Insider Louisville’s story about the new system. —Caitlin Bowling

Speaking of bridge tolls: RiverLink partners with Derby Festival for this year’s Pegasus Pin

2016 Pegasus PinPerhaps in an effort to calm the concerns of Greater Louisville residents, the new bridge tolling company RiverLink is partnering with the Kentucky Derby Festival as a new sponsor. Not only will the new Abraham Lincoln Bridge be featured on the Pegasus Pins, but RiverLink will have a presence at most Derby Festival events to help reach the public and provide information about bridge tolling, which will begin later this year.

There will only be one pin this year, which is square and features an image of the bridge and a pegasus atop the states of Kentucky and Indiana. KDF representatives say the highly coveted gold pins will be available as always.

“As the Kentucky Derby Festival has offered shared experiences for all of Kentuckiana — we feel there’s no better partner to represent the 2016 Pegasus Pin than RiverLink,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO, at a press conference this week. “Just as the bridge facilitates easy travel between states, the pin allows easy access and entry to nearly half of our events and concerts.”

RiverLink representatives will be at all the major KDF events — including Thunder Over Louisville, the Pegasus Parade and the Chow Wagon — to share information on how the new system will work.

“As part of our overall public outreach campaign, we will be sharing with people the benefits of all-electronic tolling,” said David Talley, innovative finance manager with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “Our goal is to go from very low awareness to virtually universal awareness in just two weeks’ time. Only the Derby Festival can help us do that.” —Sara Havens