GLAR: Home prices up, volume down

Home prices were up in April over last year, but sales fell by 7.1% year to date, according to a housing market report from the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors.

The report cites continuing low interest rates, however, for an average price increase of 3.2 percent across Jefferson County, where the average home price in April was $213,819 and the median was $179,000. Available inventory, meanwhile, was up just over 5% in all MLS areas.

The average time on the market for listings that sell is still under two months, GLAR President Karen Story said in a news release.

“The absorption rate for the Louisville market as a whole is 2.7 months, which is still a seller’s market,” she said, “but it will always depend on the location and quality of the property for sale.”

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said in the release that home sales over the past year are nearly the same as in 2000 but noted that now there are 50 million more people in the U.S.

“There is pent-up demand in the market, and we should see a better performing market in the coming quarters and years,” Yun said. —Kevin Gibson

Rents in Louisville growing faster than the national average

Courtesy of RentCafe.com

Rent prices in Louisville rose by 3.6% over the last year, outpacing the national average of 3% in the same time, according to a study by RentCafe.com.

Renters here now pay, on average, $33 per more per month than they did a year ago, although that remains lower than the $42 per month increase since last April on a national level.

Over the past five years, Louisville has seen a sharp increase at 15.1%, or $124 more per month since that time. Louisville is the most expensive market in the state for renters, with the average now standing at $946 per month. Comparatively, the next highest markets are Lexington ($901) and Florence ($875).

Nationally, average rent prices rose in April by 3% year-over-year, reaching $1,436 per month. Compared to last April, renters pay $42 more on average per month, following relatively flat month over month increases during the off-season. —Kevin Gibson

UofL to launch online accounting degree

The University of Louisville will add to its online degree line-up this fall with a new accounting program.

The bachelor’s degree in accountancy will be the first completely online program from UofL’s College of Business, the school said this week. UofL has been growing its online offerings with smaller certificate programs, including one on distilling.

The new program is “ideal” for students with some coursework completed or working professionals. It can take four years to complete, but take less time with transferred credits. —Olivia Krauth

Louisville-based perfumer wins international award

David Kern founded American Perfumer last year. His company’s blog earned the business a trip to the Perfumed Plume Awards in Manhattan. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Louisville-based American Perfumer won the 2019 Art and Olfaction Award for Independent Perfumery, presented at an awards ceremony in Amsterdam earlier this month.

The winning scent was Colorado, a limited-edition scent created by Boulder, Col.-perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz as a collaboration with American Perfumer. The awards are chosen through blind judging by an international pool of jurors and awarded to perfumers from around the world. This year’s awards focused on perfumes released in 2018.

American Perfumer co-founder Dave Kern called winning the award “unbelievable,” adding, “It gives us instant credibility with the international perfume community and accelerates our growth as a company.”

Hurwitz said, “To have our first collaboration recognized and rewarded internationally has been truly wonderful.” —Kevin Gibson

The UPS Centennial hub in numbers

This week, UPS announced that it had completed the $310 million expansion of its super sorting hub called Centennial.

The company said the project had created 300 full- and part-time jobs and the hub features UPS’ advanced package processing technologies.

UPS Centennial hub | Courtesy UPS

Here are a few more facts about the project, which tripled the size of the hub, that UPS shared:

  • It is one of three UPS super hubs and one of the 10 largest ground package processing facility in the United States.
  • The site is almost 175 acres and the building is over one million square feet (More than 19 football fields could fit inside.”)
  • It can sort 85,000 packages an hour (about 1,400 a minute, or “2,100 in the time it takes to brush your teeth.”)
  • It is 30%-35% more efficient than older, more manual facilities. —Mickey Meece

Report: Gannett-backed board re-elected amid takeover fight

Courier Journal | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Gannett’s flagship USA Today reported Thursday that shareholders backed the home team in a fight that pitted the owner of the Courier Journal against a hedge-fund-backed company.

The chairman of Gannett, J. Jeffry Louis, announced that eight board members up for re-election were voted in while three nominees backed by Alden Global Capital’s MNG Enterprises failed to gain seats, USA Today reported.

In January, MNG — best known as Digital First Media — made an unsolicited offer to buy Gannett for $12 a share. Gannett rejected that offer. On Thursday, its shares were trading under $9.

In a statement, MNG called it a win “for an entrenched Gannett Board” and “sadly a loss for Gannett and its shareholders.”

MNG added: “Gannett’s newspapers are critical local resources, and we hope that Gannett’s incumbent Board and Management shift course to embrace a modern approach to local news that will save newspapers and serve communities. That would be the best outcome. If Gannett’s Board does not shift course from overpaying for non-core, aspirational and dilutive digital deals, we believe the stock will drop further.”

Gannett said in part, “Consistent with the interactions with our investors leading up to the meeting, this outcome demonstrates that Gannett shareholders recognize the continued progress we have made toward our ongoing digital transformation and agree that our strategic plan is the best path to deliver value for all Gannett shareholders.” —Mickey Meece

Legislative Research Commission hires new director

LRC Director Jay Hartz

A staffer in the office of Republican Senate President Robert Stivers has been selected as the new director of the Legislative Research Commission, the state agency supporting the functions of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Jay Hartz, the deputy chief of staff in Stivers’ office, replaces former director David Byerman, whose contract was not renewed by Republican leadership last summer. The agency has been led over the last eight months by the chiefs of staff for Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

The director of the Legislative Research Commission oversees the work of the nearly 400 nonpartisan staff serving state legislators, who also research and draft bills.

Democrats previously criticized Republican leadership for not renewing Byerson’s contract and replacing him with partisan staffers from both chambers. House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins told the Herald-Leader he has concerns over a partisan staffer now filling this permanent role, but Stivers said Hartz will be “a nonpartisan director.” —Joe Sonka

In Brief

John H. Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s, sold 114,061 shares of the company on May 10 at $52.69 a share for over $6 million, according to an SEC filing.

The Gray Street Farmers Market opened on Thursday at 400 E. Gray St., between South Preston and South Jackson, and will operate on Thursdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., rain or shine, through Oct. 31, organizers said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana said it has received a $20,000 grant from the UPS Foundation. The money will be used for its School to Work mentoring program.