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.
Days after the #WestEndWalmart deal left some purists aghast, another mega-chain retailer reminds us that there are commercial developments in west Louisville that follow the rules. As one of the city’s biggest law firms basks in irony, another seeks to filet CafePress for stepping on a trademark yet again. The University of Louisville’s board of trustees will look for answers to its developing oversight crisis. And IL offers up its year-end roundup of some of the city’s biggest companies, while Yum! offers up its most tasteful double down yet.
More low-cost retail coming to west Louisville — but this one meets city code
During the past few weeks, with focus on the controversial approval of a proposed Walmart and the tension between a neighborhood in need of development and a development that clearly violates the city’s building code, another mega-chain has quietly taken steps to build a low-cost retail store in the West End.
And unlike Walmart, the company’s proposed design appears to meet the city’s established development standards.
Family Dollar, which has four locations west of Ninth Street, is proposing to build a fifth at the corner of 13th and West Broadway, according to a plan filed with Metro on Jan. 15. The retail chain, which operates in 46 states and has nine stores in Louisville, plans to build a single-story, 8,400-square-foot store with a 34-space parking lot at 1234 West Broadway.
In the proposed design, the building is nestled against 13th Street and West Broadway, and occupies about half the lot facing Broadway. The entrance is at the corner nearest Broadway on the parking lot side of the building. The other half of the lot is parking.
The developer, Chattanooga-based Hutton Co., is asking the Metro Planning Commission for waivers that would allow it to place the entrance on the parking lot side, although Metro code requires entrances on the streets that a building fronts. Hutton also is requesting a waiver on the so-called 60/40 rule, which says 60 percent of a lot facing a street must be occupied by a building. In addition, the developer wants to use a material other than glass windows on the building’s front.
According to a Metro official, the proposed design appears to comply with the city’s established development code, which requires developers to place buildings close to the street in an effort to create a more inviting urban experience. The proposal has not undergone a staff review or had a public hearing.
The design is similar to the Family Dollar at 2324 West Broadway, which the Hutton Co. developed in 2013.
In many ways, Family Dollar is a far cry from the proposed West End Walmart, which is a 154,000-square-foot, $25 million project with a 620-spot parking lot in the front. But both are low-cost national mega-retailers building in an underdeveloped neighborhood, and only one pressured Metro government and planning officials to give it what it wanted or it would walk.
You’ll recall that Family Dollar has drawn its own set of harrumphs from the locals. In January of last year, it brought its proposal for a new store in NuLu to the neighbors. They weren’t into it, to say the least, and Family Dollar promptly dropped the idea.
Although it might seem like the West End is safer territory for Family Dollar, some residents would prefer higher-quality development in a neighborhood fighting to break out of a legacy of poverty.
It’s a sentiment shared by Haven Harrington, president of the Russell Neighborhood Association.
“Why so many dollar stores?” Harrington says. “This is an over-saturation of these types of stores in west Louisville.”
U of L trustees will look to strengthen oversight amid criticism
The University of Louisville board of trustees took action on Thursday to begin addressing the concerns of a group of its members seeking to expand oversight of university functions, such as academic policy and fiduciary reviews.
At the trustees’ regular February meeting, chairman Robert Hughes announced the creation of an ad hoc committee on governance, which will consider issues raised in a recent draft proposal by a group of trustees displeased with the state of oversight at U of L. The proposal calls on the board to increase transparency, replace ritual with a more rigorous review process, and become more involved in the university’s strategic planning.
After the meeting, several trustees declined to speak with IL about the new committee. Hughes said during the meeting he expects the process to last as long as six months.
The move comes less than a week after Hughes was also named chair of the U of L Foundation, which oversees the university’s $1.1 billion in assets. The dual role — placing one person in charge of oversight for both university policies and finances — has been criticized by insiders at U of L, particularly in light of growing criticism of the board’s lack of oversight under Hughes’ leadership.