Monday Business Briefing

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Monday Biz Briefing: Global liquor giant Beam looking at downtown offices … and creating a Maker’s Mark visitor center


Downtown Louisvile, future urban boubon capital of the world?

Welcome to the July 23 top secret, always confidential Monday Business Briefing.

These are biz tips Insider Louisville staff and contributors have collected during the past few days, a few of which are NOT double-verified like Insider Louisville’s daily reporting.

But as always, this is information from insider sources with direct knowledge of events.

We keep thinking we’ll get a mid-summer lull and take off a week for quick trip down to Tortola, but, well, let’s just say it’s a particularly rewarding time to be in the digital information delivery business.

Here’s what insiders are talking about now, the stories you’ll see later this week in the CJ and Business First.

• Newly spun off from Fortune Brands, Chicago-based Beam Inc. is in the market for 30,000 square feet of downtown space, say real estate sources. Beam wants a downtown office presence for a “global business center.” Beam execs also want to create a Maker’s Mark visitor’s center that would complement their property down in Loretto in Marion County where the company is spending about $55 million on an expansion of the distillery/tourist attraction.

Louisville already has the Beam mega-distillery in Clermont near Bernheim Forest. Now, big pieces of Beam’s back-office business including finance, accounting and HR are coming to Louisville from Chicago. Earlier this year, the distillery got clearance with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for business investment tax credits based on an investment here of about $5 million. Good news … we hear that amount could be double. This is why a big Beam investment downtown makes sense: Imagine a downtown – specifically the Main Street area – with multiple urban bourbon operations such as the ones planned along Main by Heaven Hill and Michter’s. And what if all these operations were within walking distance of Hillerich & Bradsby’s bat factory, 21C Museum Hotel, a new U of L arts center on Main, the Louisville International Convention Center, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and KFC Yum! Arena?

Now you get the picture … Louisville gets an edge over Indy for more convention business. The interesting twist is that Beam execs, including Paula Erickson, Beam vice president Global Communications & Brand Public Relations, have told Insider Louisville their headquarters will never relocate here from Chicago. Are they certain?

The sign at the former Doll’s Market property.

The Doll’s Market property at 3620 Brownsboro Rd. apparently has sold. All our best retail real estate brokers were stumped as to who bought it, with a lot of email guesses going back and forth. So we canvassed the surrounding store owners, and here’s what they said: The buyer intends to keep the Doll’s Market building, blending the defunct grocery into an addition that will be a new retail development. Grisanti Group did the deal, but they’re not talking. Doll’s closed last year after about 50 years,with its owners anticipating competition from Trader Joe’s and other new boutique grocery operations would push out locals. It will be interesting to see what replaces it … and you have to wonder if a gourmet food business wouldn’t make sense there, on the southern edge of Glenview.

• More on Norton Healthcare’s moves out of downtown. And we need to  update last week’s Monday Business Briefing. Yes, Norton is moving its HQ and administrative offices, but not to Old Brownsboro Crossing.  At least not right away. Norton spokesman Steve Menaugh sent us a copy of Norton CEO Steve Williams’ internal email to Norton employees about the move:

As a part of our strategic planning process this year, our facilities management staff is completing a comprehensive review of our current and projected space needs for clinical and support functions on our campuses. This began with the downtown campus, given the above-mentioned pressing needs for additional space. It is notable that on the downtown campus, we vacated and razed the Norton Medical Towers North building by relocating most of its occupants to other downtown campus locations without new construction.

 After considering many options, we have determined that the most prudent and cost efficient solution to address this need is to relocate some non-clinical departments currently residing in the Medical Towers South building to other locations. Those areas being relocated include the departments of Strategic Planning and Business Analysis, Legal Services and Risk management, and most of the system executive offices, all currently housed on the second and third floors of the Norton Medical Towers South building. Also relevant to this decision is our preference to reserve our capital dollars for use on clinical services rather than on support services or for administrative areas.

Norton’s new headquarters building.

So, Norton is headed by late October to the first floor of a Fenley office building at  4967 U.S. Highway 42, at Fenley’s office park complex just west of Lime Kiln Lane, NOT Brownsboro Crossings. But that’s just part of the story. The Fenley space is temporary space. Moreover, Norton also is leasing a huge amount of space in the Watterson Tower at 1930 Bishop Lane in southeast Louisville near the Jefferson County Board of Education headquarters. The Bishop’s Lane space is being finished out. So, what does this all mean? We doubt Norton wants operations strung out all over town. Our sources say Norton will still end up consolidating in a new office building planned for Old Brownsboro Crossings. Still digging ….

• Vigilant insiders are reporting that with no local publicity, ARCO Aluminium’s operation here, owned by BP, was sold last year to a Japan-based conglomerate in a deal worth about $700 million. That deal is now complete, and our insiders say the new company, Tri-Arrows Aluminium, ranks among the larger companies based in Louisville and is growing. Tri-Arrows is at 9960 Corporate Campus Dr. in Faulkner’s Forest Green Corporate Office Park.

Who knew? And who are the “Tri-Arrows”?

  • Furukawa-Sky Aluminum Corp. 
  • Sumitomo Corporation
  • ITOCHU Corporation

Recognize any of these names? Maybe Sumimoto? One of the largest Japanese companies, with global operations in mining and manufacturing. ITOCHU Corp. is a candidate for the largest Japan-based business period, a mix of a colossal investment bank and a conglomerate that touches every industry from aerospace to textiles to mining. Finally, Furukawa is Japan’s largest supplier to auto manufacturers, owner of Yokohama tires, among dozens of giant subsidiaries.

Think of that. One of the largest Louisville-based businesses is part of a global partnership that Louisvillians have no idea exists.

Tri-Arrows Aluminum itself also owns large stakes in fairly large businesses, including 45 percent of Logan Mill, an aluminum rolling mill that is one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum sheet for beverage can makers, and 60 percent of Logan Aluminum Inc., based in Russellville, Ky. with Atlanta-based Novelis Corp. Both Tri-Arrows Aluminium and Novelis individually supply Logan Mill, splitting profits.

• We have more on our tease from last week about  the local app developer “trying to take down Pandora,” as one local entrepreneur puts it. The name of the company is Blazon, and they have a website up, which you can see here. As we said, the group, based in Louisville, has negotiated deals with record labels and is working with radio stations. The first step will be to launch a system allowing radio stations to offer music streaming on their site, and the group made a pitch to VCs at a Forge event we managed to miss.

From the  Blazon site:

Blazon empowers broadcasters to capitalize on non-traditional revenue sources and maintain momentum in the digital era.

Accept all types and levels of advertising revenue

Stop turning away local artists, promoters, producers or non-profits who want to advertise at your station

Customizable “ready to launch” digital entertainment site that extends online and on-air music play lists with non-aired music

Get immediate traction from consumers who are depending on your station to discover the latest and best in music and events

The talents behind the effort have – in the most polite terms – declined to be interviewed until some technical complications can be worked out. But IL is promised a scoop.

And as you know, we love scoops.



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