Welcome to the Oct. 30 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Affordable housing project in Prospect shot down in close vote
In a vote of 14 to 11, Louisville Metro Council voted down a proposed 198-unit, four-story affordable senior housing development called Prospect Cove.
Councilman Scott Reed, R-16, reiterated his past comments that he didn’t believe the design of Prospect Cove fit the character of the surrounding neighborhood and was larger than any other residential development in the area. Reed represents the district the development was proposed to be built in.
“There are no four-story residential facilities in the Prospect area. There is nothing close to that. The issue has never been about affordable housing. It’s been about the size and scope,” Reed said after several council members accused nearby residents of trying to kill the project because of the type of people they thought would live there.
Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3, said she was insulted by the fact that the needed development faced so much blowback, noting that most of the city’s affordable housing is concentrated in the West End.
“I want to spread the affordable housing around, I think it should be in all districts,” she said.
Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, called the attitude toward affordable housing and lack of such housing near Prospect modern-day redlining.
“We talk about redlining like it’s a thing of the past,” she said. “We are still fighting the same issues. I can’t believe it. …Why are you trying to keep us out of the community? That is the way I see it.”
LDG Development indicated in an email sent to Insider that it was not giving up on developing the property, located at 6500 Forest Cove Lane and 7301 River Road. The company still has an option on the land and is evaluating its next steps.
“We appreciate the support of Zoning and Planning Commission which, after hours of testimony and review, unanimously agreed that Prospect Cove was an appropriate use of this site. We also appreciate the 11 Metro Council members who supported this decision and who believe that more affordable housing — especially for seniors — is something this community needs,” LDG Development said in an emailed statement.
“It is clear after reading the testimony from the hearing,” and comments from Prospect Mayor John Evans, “the objections to this project had more to do with perceptions on who would be living in this development and less to do with the scope of this development. This type of attitude is wrong and we stand by our belief that everyone deserves a quality place to live.” —Caitlin Bowling
LouVino opening Cincinnati location next year
Wine bar and restaurant LouVino, which got its start on Bardstown Road, will open its fourth location in spring 2018.
Co-owner Chad Coulter told Insider that the restaurant and bar had signed a lease for a property on Main Street in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.
“There is a lot of development going on there and just about every space between 11th and 15th is under lease or under construction or opened up,” Coulter said, noting that the neighborhood is “coming back with a vengeance” after years of disinvestment.
The Cincinnati LouVino will seat about 120 people and have a private dining room for about 40 patrons in the basement.
Similar to the other three LouVinos, the Cincinnati restaurant and bar will have a classic section with the same small bites as its sister locations, but the head chef also will contribute seasonal dishes that change every four to six weeks.
LouVino chef Tavis Rockwell, who opened the first location with the Coulters, will be the head chef at the Cincinnati location. His wife, Sarah Rockwell, will also work at the new LouVino.
Coulter said the move made sense because they had family in Northern Kentucky and it would give them a strong team.
Humana shares spike on CVS/Aetna acquisition report
Shares of health insurers spiked Friday after The Wall Street Journal reported that CVS Health is considering an acquisition of Aetna.
The Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, said CVS might offer as much as $200 per share for Aetna, a significant premium, as insurer’s shares at the time were trading around $160.
Shares of Aetna spiked 11.5 percent, to $178.60, on that news on Thursday, but fell 3 percent on Friday. Shares of rival insurers Anthem and Humana, meanwhile, posted solid gains on Friday. Anthem’s shares rose 2.1 percent, closing at $211.34, while Humana added nearly 3 percent, closing at $258.97. The S&P 500 gained 0.81 percent.
The WSJ said that CVS was weighing the acquisition to “to fortify itself against looming competition from Amazon.com.” However, Forbes health care writer Bruce Japsen said that he believed the merger was unlikely, because CVS only days ago announced that it would form a pharmacy benefits management company with Anthem.
Aetna tried to buy Humana last year, but a judge blocked the deal in January on antitrust grounds. —Boris Ladwig
Louisville ZIP code makes a list of top 10 hipster neighborhoods
While it is suggested that reports such as this one be taken with a helping of salt, this latest “Top 10” list isn’t necessarily off base.
Realtor.com and Yelp joined forces to find the 10 “Hottest Hipster Markets” in the United States. The report identified Louisville’s Schnitzelburg neighborhood, as well as neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; San Diego; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Rochester, N.Y.; San Francisco; Long Beach, Calif.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Colorado Springs, Colo., as burgeoning hipster havens.
“With a strong community and affordable local restaurant scene, Schnitzelburg has seen growing popularity over the past several years. Schnitzelburg is a quirky neighborhood with traditions like hosting the World Dainty Championship the last Monday of July,” the report states.
The median home price in Schnitzelburg is $173,950, and millennials make up 19.3 percent of the population. The report called Zanzabar, with its live music and pinball machines, the most popular Schnitzelburg bar. (Technically, the bar is in the St. Joseph neighborhood.)
While people may think Portland, Ore., or Austin, Texas, the companies focused on “under-the-radar locations” where Yelp users have identified popular business as hipster, according to the report.
“Yelpers are great at identifying up-and-coming areas and businesses, which allows us to predict trends as well as uncover detailed data on what’s happening in local economies right now,” Carl Bialik, Yelp data editor, said in the report. “While ‘hipster’ is something of a cliche, it turns out to be a useful term to uncover the types of businesses and attributes we often associate with cool hunters, such as visually appealing interiors and less touristy parts of town.” —Caitlin Bowling
RiverLink brings in more than $56.4 million in first nine months
More than 22.5 million trips have been made across the city’s three tolled bridges since the start of tolling roughly nine months ago, which has amounted to more than $56.4 million in revenue for Indiana and Kentucky.
RiverLink officials said that the revenue collected to-date is meeting expectations, allowing both states to meet their financial obligations when it comes to paying for debt on the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.
During the last quarter (July through September), RiverLink recorded more than 7.7 million crossings, the tolling system reported, and collected $21.7 million.
The bridges averaged a total of 89,303 crossings during the week and 69,521 crossings on the weekends during the third quarter.
The number of RiverLink prepaid accounts rose by nearly 10 percent to more than 137,000 accounts. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 RiverLink customers erroneously received $5 late fee notices in the mail. Officials said the error had been corrected and that the fee was removed from accounts. Customers can check account invoices online. —Caitlin Bowling
Ford begins production of new Expedition
Ford Motor Co. on Friday began production of the new Expedition at Kentucky Truck Plant.
The automaker had said in June that it would pump $900 million into KTP to retain local production of the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
A Ford spokeswoman had told Insider at the time that the investments would retain 1,000 jobs at the plant, which employs about 8,000 workers who primarily make the Ford Super Duty truck.
Among other upgrades, the investment helped pay for a new body shop, as the new Expedition and Navigator have an aluminum alloy body.
The investment resembled those the automaker announced in late 2015, when it said that it would spend $1.3 billion and create 2,000 jobs at KTP to prepare for the launch of the all-new Super Duty. That vehicle, too, has an aluminum alloy body and required the building of a new body shop.
The plant’s workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union. Wages of new hires start at $15.78 but rise to $22.50 within four years.
During the introduction on Friday, Ford officials surprised a visiting pastor from Houston whose vehicle was destroyed and his church badly damaged during Hurricane Harvey with a gift of an all-new Ford Expedition to help with his recovery efforts. —Boris Ladwig
Pew report shows Kentucky lagging other states in revenue versus expenses
In a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, “Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis,” Kentucky revenue fell short of expenses in the fiscal years 2002-2016.
Kentucky ranked in seventh place among the 11 states in which revenue trailed expenses over the long-term, Pew found. Revenue totaled 98.8 percent of expenses, with deficits in nine out of 15 years, the report showed.
Pew explained: “Even as they dealt with two recessions, most states amassed sufficient revenue between fiscal years 2002 and 2016 to cover their expenses. But total revenue in 11 states fell short, jeopardizing their long-term fiscal flexibility and pushing off to future taxpayers some past costs for operating government and providing services.” —Mickey Meece
Space Tango of Lexington said it had entered into an agreement with Airbus Defence and Space to combine commercial programs to expand International Space Station capabilities.
Louisville Metro is conducting an online survey of electric vehicle ownership in Louisville. Drive Clean Louisville says it will use the data to help make the city an easier place to own and use an electric vehicle. As part of the survey, respondents will also be asked to suggest spots where they’d like to see more electric-vehicle charging stations placed in the community. “Gasoline-powered vehicles and their fueling are sources of a significant amount of ozone-forming pollution, so we know that EVs can be a big step in the right direction toward improving Louisville’s air quality,” said Michelle King, the Air Pollution Control District’s director of program planning, in a press release.