Welcome to the Dec. 7 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Luckett & Farley buys property for $1.5 million to further SoBro revitalization

Luckett & Farley plans to renovate this storied building. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA
Luckett & Farley plans to renovate this storied building. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

One of the oldest continuing architecture firms in the country has purchased a historic building at the corner of South Third and York streets that it will renovate as part of a grander plan to revive downtown Louisville’s SoBro district.

Luckett & Farley, which started in Louisville in 1853, purchased 741-749 S. Third St. for $1.5 million on Nov. 24 from previous owner Gary L. Matheis. The addresses correspond to two properties and a single building that spans both of them. The firm is headquartered next door at 737 S. Third St.

“We know that we are going to redevelop the property to enhance the area and create greater economic development,” said Tim Pitcher, president of Luckett & Farley Development.

The company’s real estate arm is still in the early planning stages, so there aren’t many details to divulge just yet. The building will be turned into a mixed-use development.

Work is expected to begin by spring 2016, Pitcher said.

The renovation will be part of a larger project that will include multiple properties.

“We are going to be active in Louisville in general and SoBro in particular,” Pitcher said. “I am not prepared to tell you much more than that.”

Luckett & Farley will be working with the city, which started the SoBro district revitalization effort in 2013 as part of Portland State University’s Urban Sustainability Accelerator program. The program focuses on using green infrastructure projects and sustainable development, as well as creating a more vibrant area.

The SoBro district runs from Broadway, between Ninth and Brook streets, down to around Kentucky Street; it also runs down Eighth and Ninth streets through part of Old Louisville to Hill Street. Most of the buildings are at least 50 years old; many are more than 100 years old, according to information from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.

The building at 741-749 S. Third St. has a unique history. It, along with Luckett & Farley’s current offices, was the site of William Prince Wells’ second automotive dealership. His first — the first in the state as far as anyone knows — was at 718-720 S. Fourth St., which today is a public parking lot.

When he was younger, Prince Wells was touted as “The Greatest Living Sensational Cyclist” and performed tricks on a bicycle. After moving back to Louisville in 1890, he opened a bicycle shop downtown.

An illustration of a young William Prince Wells.
An illustration of a young William Prince Wells.

“That bicycle shop was pretty darn successful,” said Greg Buccola, vice president at Luckett & Farley and the unofficial historian for the project. “I started this research when we started looking at this and thinking about how and why they designed the building the way they did.”

Around the 1900s, Prince Wells switched transportation modes to automobiles, first opening the dealership on Fourth Street and then the second at 737 S. Third St. He later expanded the Third Street property to 741-749 S. Third St., which included adding a car service center. Today, the building still has a large vehicle lift for the cars, Buccola said, adding that he couldn’t find any information about why the dealership closed.

The building has open floors and exposed steel trusses. To recreate it today, Buccola said, would “likely be cost prohibitive.”

Luckett & Farley hasn’t completely decided what it will do with the building, Buccola said, but “we definitely will be seeking to preserve the historic essence of the property.” —Caitlin Bowling

Source: Home builders’ testimony helped Electrolux in antitrust case — but now the deal with GE is off…

(Story updated Monday morning with new information.)

Testimony from two major home building companies undermined the government’s antitrust lawsuit against Swedish appliance maker AB Electrolux, a source familiar with the company’s case told IL on Friday.

Screenshot of GE Appliances website.

However, just minutes after this Monday Business Briefing went live, General Electric announced it was calling off the pending deal with Electrolux.

The U.S. Department of Justice had sued to block Electrolux from buying General Electric’s Louisville-based appliance business for $3.3 billion. The feds contended the merger would lead to higher prices for consumers. The companies said regulators do not have a complete understanding of the market, which, they said, is seeing increasing competition.

GE’s 900-acre Louisville campus includes five manufacturing plants that employ about 6,000 people who make household products including dishwashers, refrigerators and hot-water heaters.

Representatives from Pulte Homes and D.R. Horton testified in Washington, D.C., last week that they were not worried about the merger leading to higher prices, the source told IL on Friday. If the merged company raised prices on its appliances, large home builders could buy less expensive products from competitors, the representatives said.Pulte logo

“I think (Electrolux and GE) had some really strong testimony from both of those builders,” the source said.

The source also said statements by Robert Baird, a vice president with Home Depot Inc., helped the company’s case — though the DoJ also scored some points on cross examination in sometimes testy exchanges.

Baird said companies like Home Depot can adjust to a manufacturer raising prices by reducing that company’s floor space and more prominently displaying models of competitors, the source said. However, DoJ attorney Ethan Glass suggested that Baird was biased because Home Depot would benefit financially from higher prices.

And Law360 reported that Baird had bought GE stock before the merger was announced and “argued multiple times for manufacturers to increase prices.”

Proceedings had been expected to close in the next few days, before this morning’s unexpected announcement. IL will have more on the termination of the deal later today. —Boris Ladwig

LouVino ready to break ground on Douglass Hills location

A rendering of the Douglass Hills LouVino | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

LouVino owners Chad and Lauren Coulter closed last week on the 1-acre parcel of land at 11400 Main St. where they plan to build their second restaurant location from the ground up.

“We’re all official now,” Chad Coulter told Insider Louisville. “We are hoping to break ground in the next couple weeks.”

The couple had hoped to start construction in the fall but the approvals process with the cities of Louisville and Douglass Hills took four to five months, he said, and it took three months to get all the proper paperwork signed by the owner, a company out of Ohio.

“There are just a lot of steps,” Coulter said.

Between the land purchase and build-out, Coulter estimated the project will cost about $2 million, and depending on the weather, the new LouVino will open in June or July.

The Coulters have commissioned the construction of an 8,500-square-foot building, but LouVino will only occupy 4,200 square feet. The remaining space will be split and rented out to two tenant businesses, Coulter said.

As for LouVino, it will seat 140 seating inside, including a 35-person private dining room, and 25 to 30 people on an outdoor patio. The restaurant will apply for a liquor license to allow it to serve alcohol to patio guests. —Caitlin Bowling

Neighbors head to zoning meeting to protest Old Louisville B&B project

Patricia Mahaun's home in Old Louisville | Courtesy of PVA
Patricia Mahaun’s home in Old Louisville | Courtesy of PVA

It’s not always sunny in Old Louisville.

Insider Louisville recently wrote about a proposed three-bedroom bed and breakfast that Patricia Mahaun wants to open in her home at 1440 St. James Ct. Mahaun said running a B&B was a long-time dream and she looked for years for the right house in the right place.

However, about 40 of Mahaun’s neighbors don’t agree that her St. James Court home is the right place for a B&B, according to two St. James residents.

“People are heated,” said Maria Eckerle, Mahaun’s neighbor. “The houses are so close together. You can’t sit on one front porch without hearing the conversation of another.”

Fellow neighbor Barbara Townsend had her own way of characterizing the proximity of the homes.

“You can almost stand between our houses and touch the neighbors,” she said.

The women are particularly concerned about the fact that Mahaun wants to have events, which would bring more traffic than just the three extra cars that the B&B operations would add.

St. James is a small street, Eckerle and Townsend both said, and it’s already hard to find parking and to pass cars that are loading or unloading items.

“The parking situation is atrocious at St. James,” Eckerle said

Townsend said the neighbors also have no assurances about the hours of operation, how many events the B&B would host or whether event guests will be allowed to bring alcohol.

“It is really going to make the situation a lot worse,” she said. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville-based IGZU advances in national beverage competition

Founders of IGZU in Jamaica
IGZU founders Courtney McCoy and Zachary Anderson in Jamaica | Courtesy of IGZU

New bamboo leaf tea company IGZU is gaining national attention as the Louisville business moves into the semi-finals of BevNet’s New Beverage Showdown.

BevNet is a national beverage publication that hosts the competition, pitting new companies and drinks against each other in a battle over taste.

“Think of it as being nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy’s or being selected to compete on Project Runway, only with a lot less side-boob action and overall questionable attire. This is kind of like that, only for the beverage industry,” IGZU co-founder Zachary Anderson said in a news release.

IGZU ran a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year to get the business off the ground.

More than 40 companies entered the competition, and IGZU was chosen as one of 15 semi-finalists to give a presentation at BevNet’s winter conference in San Diego Dec. 7-8. The semi-finalists will be narrowed to six, and a winner will be chosen Tuesday afternoon.

The New Beverage Showdown gives IGZU a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash and prizes as well as get its products in front of industry professionals. Past winners have expanded to become nationally distributed brands.

“Getting in front of important beverage industry decision makers at such an early stage will undoubtedly help amplify IGZU’s voice and further our disruptive conversation centered around sustainable ingredients,” Anderson said in the release. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville native’s Old Limestone mixing water lands in Playboy’s gift guide

Tap is crap. This makes your bourbon better.
Tap is crap. This makes your bourbon better.

Formerly called Branch Water, Old Limestone mixing water garnered some national attention last week when it showed up in this month’s Playboy magazine. Nestled among many other manly products in its annual Holiday Gift Guide, Old Limestone —created by Louisvillian Doug Keeney — was prominently featured for those interested in reading the magazine. Underneath its image is this description:

“Old Limestone’s iron-free mixing water, from the same Kentucky aquifer favored by distillers, is the splash of choice for those who savor premium bourbon.”

Keeney sold his first bottle of iron-free, limestone filtered water in late 2014, and he has since won multiple awards in competitions and distributed his product near (Liquor Barn, etc.) and far. As word has spread and bourbon aficionados have become even more picky about their water sources, he has amped up his production over the last few months to meet demand, even purchasing a bottling line and warehouse space in the Portland neighborhood.

A 750 mL French pure flint glass bottle retails for $9.95, or you can just get the special water in plastic containers for $3.95. Click here to learn more about the product. —Sara Havens

Taco Bell thinks its pretty BOSS

Taco Bell added BOSS Nachos to its menu. | Taco Bell website
Taco Bell added BOSS Nachos to its menu. | Taco Bell website

The Mexican(-ish) child of Louisville-based restaurant giant Yum! Brands Inc. has added a new menu item that is taking charge.

Named BOSS Nachos, the offering comes with steak, chips, nacho cheese sauce, three-blend cheese, refried beans, reduced fat sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo — and like all menu items is customizable. The nachos are definitely a heavy hitter at 1120 to 1160 calories.

On its website, Taco Bell refers to BOSS Nachos as the best kind of boss. The company noted bosses can range from “Santa on a power trip” to “someone as considerate and delicious as the BOSS Nachos.”

“With a double portion of meat, guacamole, reduced fat sour cream, plenty of nacho cheese sauce, and of course pico de gallo, the BOSS Nachos leads by example, not fear or jealousy, and is always ready to lend praise to its team of fellow Taco Bell menu items.”

The company does not address whether the consumption of BOSS Nachos actually confers the qualities of a great boss onto the eater. That area of study will be left up to the next Ig Nobel winner.  —Caitlin Bowling