Welcome to the Dec. 10 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Workforce housing Unity Place heading to final vote, questions raised

Unity Place rendering | Courtesy of Barrister Commercial Group

Metropolitan Housing Coalition’s Cathy Hinko last week raised the alarm about new requirements placed on an Okolona workforce housing development by Metro Council’s Planning, Zoning and Annexation Committee, questioning whether such demands are placed on market-rate housing projects.

The development, called Unity Place, will go before the full Metro Council this Thursday for a final vote.

Unity Place is a 260-unit workforce housing project that Barrister Commercial Group wants to build at 8016 Shepherdsville Road. Some of the units will be held for refugee families referred by Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

During last week’s meeting of the council committee, Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, added binding elements that Barrister Commerical Group must follow if approved, including requiring that a sidewalk along Robbs Lane be completed before the first resident moves in and that an on-site manager and emergency maintenance personnel be available at all times. Density and building height also cannot be increased, according to the recently added binding elements.

Hinko told Insider that the additional elements, along with requiring the developer to build the sidewalk in the first place, are not something that is generally required, which led her to ask why they are being required for an affordable housing project.

“They are talking about either the people there or it’s a pretext to make it fail because it becomes so expensive. That’s my problem,” Hinko said. “And neither one is good.”

Mike Brown, director of business development for Barrister Commerical Group, told Insider in a phone interview that the company and its attorney will need to take a close look at the language of the binding elements to see if it fit what was previously agreed to.

“If not, we will have to discuss that” before the Metro Council meeting Thursday, Brown said.

He noted that the company already planned to have an on-site manager, but the language regarding an emergency maintenance personnel is unclear and having someone on-site 24/7 isn’t typical.

As for the sidewalks, Barrister Commerical Group agreed to build them to make it easier for residents to access a park and ride TARC pick-up, Brown said. As Hinko noted, he said, “it adds cost to the project. … It makes it more difficult.”

Brown also took the chance to note that Unity Place will be a “high quality” development built with brick, stone and planking board. It will give new residents a place to live and save money to possibly buy a house.

“The type of people who want to move there are probably gonna want to buy homes in that area,” Brown said. —Caitlin Bowling

UofL studies green space and heart disease

In Louisville, some areas are greener than others. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Researchers from the University of Louisville have found an association between living in greener areas and diminished risk of cardiovascular disease.

That’s according to a new study published this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

More than 400 people, mainly from northwestern Jefferson County, provided blood and urine samples for the research, according to the study. They were recruited from the UofL Physicians-Cardiovascular Medicine outpatient cardiology clinic, which sees patients who have cardiovascular disease or are at high risk of developing it.

“In this study, we found that the residential proximity to vegetation was associated with cardiovascular health as reflected by a range of biomarkers of cardiovascular injury and disease risk,” according to the article.

For example, individuals who lived in areas with more green vegetation had lower levels of epinephrine, indicating lower levels of stress, and higher capacity to repair blood vessels, according to a UofL news release. Exposure to greenery was estimated using data from the U.S. Geological Survey and satellite imagery.

“In comparison with those living in areas of high greenness, participants residing in areas of low greenness were more likely to live in a deprived area and have significantly lower median household income,” the study notes.

The research is part of a continuing effort by UofL to study the connection between the environment and heart health.

“We know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country and … we think that in the next few years the rate of heart disease is going to increase even more because of the increase in diabetes and obesity, so we need to figure out new ways of preventing heart disease and not just treating it,” said co-author Aruni Bhatnagar, a UofL professor of medicine who directs the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at UofL. —Darla Carter

Old Stone Inn and Tavern reopens

Churchill Downs executive chef David Danielson pictured with the iconic twin spires. | Courtesy of Churchill Downs

The historic Simpsonville restaurant never seems to stay closed for too long.

The Old Stone Inn and Tavern, which has a 200-year history in Kentucky, recently reopened; this time under the management of David Danielson, executive chef at Churchill Downs. (Side note: Danielson made an appearance on the season opener of “Top Chef Kentucky.”)

The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and will open for lunch in early January.

“The Old Stone Inn was a cornerstone of the community for many generations. We want to bring that back and create the magic that was once here,” Danielson said in a news release. “Our goal is to combine locally grown ingredients and traditional flavors to create dishes that are uniquely Kentucky.”

The menu features dishes with local ingredients from nearby farms and a new beverage program. The kitchen staff also has committed to using every part of the animals and produce it serves, the release states.

Dishes include braised lamb, trout, shrimp and grits, golden and red beet ravioli, charred Brussel sprouts and mushroom fries. Food suppliers include Louismill, Frondosa Farms, Freedom Run Farm, Courtney Farm, Aqua Fresh Farms, Capriole, Woodland Mountain and Joyce Farms chicken. —Caitlin Bowling

Humana Foundation awards $2M in grants

Walter D. Woods

The Humana Foundation is awarding grants totaling $2 million to more than 30 nonprofits in Louisville as part of its new Community Relations program.

“The organizations receiving these new grants from the Humana Foundation all made clear that they will be able to make a difference in the Louisville area with the contributions,” Humana Foundation CEO Walter Woods said in a news release.

“Quality of life and quality of place programs like those funded by our Community Relations program are key to making our hometown a healthier, safer place to live for everyone,” he said.

Seven organizations will receive more than $100,000:

  • Home of the Innocents will use the funds to help homeless children and young adults.
  • Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center will provide school-based health centers in high-need neighborhoods.
  • Louisville Urban League will fund a community health program.
  • One West will bring commercial development to nine neighborhoods in west Louisville.
  • Kentucky Refugee Ministries will fund case management for refugees and immigrants with complex medical conditions.
  • Louisville Metro Health Department will help residents in Council Districts 6 and 8 develop community improvement ideas.
  • Help Us Grow Reading Program will raise reading proficiency among Louisville elementary school students.

—Boris Ladwig

Beam: A new bourbon release and an old ghost

We hope to find this in our stocking.

Two items of news coming out of the Jim Beam Distillery — one that sounds mouth-watering and the other otherworldly, literally.

We’ll start with the good news. Beam’s Basil Hayden’s is coming out with a new expression just in time for Christmas, and it’ll be released once a year in limited quantities. The Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Bourbon sat in the barrel a tad bit longer than the regular one — for a full 10 years. We admit, it’s refreshing to see an age statement on a new release.

“We wanted to give our fans an expression that could be that ‘special something’ to enjoy when spending time with family and friends over the holidays or when picking out a great gift,” Rob Mason, vice president of whiskey at Beam Suntory, said in a news release.

The 10 Year bourbon should be on shelves now with a suggested retail price of $59.99. It’s also sold at the standard Basil Hayden’s 80 proof.

In other news — which could be exciting or frightening, depending on who you are — we’ve heard of angels hanging around distilleries, but apparently, Beam has a few ghosts haunting the rick houses at its Clermont, Ky., distillery. The crew from Destination America channel’s “Paranormal Lockdown” found out about this and filmed an episode inside the rick house that’ll air Dec. 18.

Destination America is owned by the Discovery Channel and is on most cable plans. This episode will be part of Season 3 of the show, in which investigators Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spend 72 hours in various haunted locations around the country.

Also included this season is a look at the “Portal to Hell” at Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Ky., and the Monroe House in Hartford City, Ind. The show runs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. starting Dec. 4. —Sara Havens

Actors Theatre’s associate artistic director Meredith McDonough resigns

Meredith McDonough | Photo by Justin Philalack

While Actors Theatre is still in the midst of its search for a replacement for Les Waters as artistic director, associate artistic director Meredith McDonough has resigned.

McDonough announced her resignation to the staff on Nov. 16; she will leave at the end of the year to pursue freelance work and other artistic endeavors, according to Actors’ public relations manager Elizabeth Greenfield.

McDonough directed some of Actors’ recent smash hits as diverse as the “Angels in America” revival and the 2017 Humana Festival comedy “Airness” about champion air guitar players. She joined Actors in 2013.

The Actors board and the search team for the next artistic director are not publicly commenting, but, according to Greenfield, “she will be dearly missed.” —Melissa Chipman

Who’s been funded

Lisa Bajorinas of EnterpriseCorp made her monthly announcement of who’s been funded in Louisville at Wednesday’s Venture Connectors meeting.

Curio Learning, an online platform where “rebel teachers” can collaborate and share curriculum, won the $100,000 grand prize at the Uber Pitch competition at the Girlboss Rally in New York.

So far this year, there have been 32 companies funded with $37,682,000 in capital invested, and there are 14 Million Dollar Babies.

The next meeting will be Jan. 9 at noon. Meetings in 2019 will begin at noon and last one hour, with networking after. —Lisa Hornung

Against the Grain Brewery and Zoeller win Martha Layne Collins Award

Against the Grain Brewery was given a Martha Layne Collins Award for Excellence in International Trade by World Trade Center Kentucky. Louisville-based Zoeller Company also won the award.

The awards were announced at a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort on Thursday, Dec. 6. Against the Grain won in the medium enterprise category, which stipulates 500 employees or less. Zoeller won in the large enterprise category for companies with 500 employees or more.

Against the Grain opened in 2011 and has seen its beer distribution stretch around the world, including opening a satellite brewery in Japan. Zoeller, founded in 1939, is one of America’s oldest, independently-owned pump manufacturers with locations in Canada, Mexico and Taiwan.

The annual awards are named after Kentucky’s 56th governor and given to companies that achieve significant accomplishments in international trade that positively benefit the state. —Kevin Gibson

In Brief

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services hopes new tablets will allow about 1,800 social workers and social services employees to complete paperwork more efficiently while out of the office visiting clients or even between appointments. The tablets are replacing laptop and desktop computers.

Interim executive director of Transit Authority of River City, Ferdinand Risco Jr., was appointed to the Louisville Tourism Commission, the policy-making body of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

TV news reporter and anchor Rachel Platt has accepted a position with the Frazier History Museum as director of community engagement. Platt has worked for WHAS-TV for 29 years and will step down on Dec. 21.