Andy Blieden is sitting pretty.
Sipping his usual six-shot espresso at the Starbucks on the big Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road intersection, Blieden can see his latest project, an eyesore of a facade at 1023/1025 Bardstown Road.
But that eyesore is sitting on Louisville’s busiest urban business corridor, surrounded by destination businesses. And it won’t be there much longer.
The building used to be a Miracle Cleaners. Used to be, because a demolition crew tore down the back of the long-vacant building last Thursday, with the mostly concrete block building scheduled to be completely down by the end of this week.
Blieden bought the building about two weeks ago from Lee Dixon Corp. His purchase hasn’t been recorded on the Louisville-Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator webite, and he declined to reveal the price, saying only he expects to invest “a lot” in the project.
As Addyworld LLC, the developer got a $150,000 loan for the demolition of the building – vacant since 2002 – from Louisville Metropolitan Business Development Corp.
“It was an empty building that had just sucked the life out of the street,” Blieden said.
Now, what to do with it? Retail? Restaurant?
What to do with the .25 acre lot that has a variance for as many as 18 parking spaces if the new building is at least 6,000 square feet, something unheard of in the bumper-to-bumper Highlands.
“I live on the block,” said Blieden of his nearby Cherokee Road home. “I have other properties on the block. This building was a cancer on street.
“I want to do something great here. There are a ton of possibilities. This is a chance to build something beautiful.”
We asked Blieden if he wanted to crowd source the project, and in the typical Andy Blieden style, he said, “Why not.”
So, here’s his contact information: Andy Blieden, 502-599-8270.
What would you get?
The property is surrounded by major traffic generators including Jack Fry’s restaurant, the quirky Wild and Wooly Video and The Holy Grale temple to beer. Wick’s Pizza Parlor is a few doors west. A Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen location is a few doors east.
Across the street is the new KFC Eleven concept store under construction, which is scheduled to reopen this year.
What the new business won’t have to deal with is the headache of contamination remediation.
Blieden said he took advantage of a new state brownfields redevelopment program that states, in essence, “if you didn’t cause the problem, we’re not going to penalize you for it.”
Under the program, the state issues liability assurances and indemnification to developers who purchase brownfields properties. “I was the second person approved for this,”Blieden said. “The state has actually been good to work with.”
The building had asbestos issues. “But think about it … it was a dry cleaners,” he said. “Asbestos is easy.” The state-managed plan, overseen by a monitor, will cap the site with a vapor barrier that seals any chemicals that might have leaked into the soil, according to Blieden.
Had the state not developed the new brownfields program, “this property would never have been redeveloped,” he said.
Blieden has a record of having done a variety of unconventional projects, mostly adaptive resuses of old buildings.
In 1998, he turned what had been the former J.V. Reed /Caudell Seed building at 1201 Story Ave. in Butchertown, his manufacturing company, into Butchertown Market, an office, artisan retail and restaurant development.
He transformed another old Butchertown building nearby on Washington Street into The Blind Pig restaurant/Meat bar, a building he sold to Peyton Ray in May. Blieden also redeveloped an old church in to the Holy Grale.
“Those were all adaptive reuses,” Blieden said. “This is a little different because I get to build a new building. And it should be spectacular. That’s what the area demands.
“You’ve only got one shot.”
Bliden isn’t ruling out anything except a quick flip or fast-money deal.
That could include a build-to-suit for a national credit tenant– a retailer or a restaurant, Blieden said. Or it could include your deal.