Welcome to the July 27 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Bradford Mills LoftsA pair of massive Germantown warehouses connected by a pedway and long thought to be ripe for redevelopment will become the Bradford Mills Lofts, according to plans from the Marian Development Group shared exclusively with Insider Louisville. The project would transform the warehouses, at the corner of East Oak Street and Reutlinger Avenue, into 150 loft-style, Class A apartment units with average monthly rents projected to start in the $700s.

Marian, which has extensive experience in adaptive reuse, is partnering with Chad Middendorf, who recently bought The Colony Center in St. Matthews, and Ashley Blacketer, who along with Gant Hill — also the broker on this deal — developed Lofts on Frankfort. The group plans to spend $20 million on the project. Mitchell Kersting of WorK Architecture + Design is the lead architect, and L&J Constructors is the contractor.

Marian, the developer, will seek historic tax credits from the state and plans to restore both buildings’ facades and windows, as well as refurbish the original brick and wood floors in the interior spaces. It also plans to add a 2,500-square-foot restaurant on the first floor along Oak Street, a full-service gym for residents, and a pool between the two buildings.

Bradford Mills, the building to the east, was built in 1910 and is constructed of steel and wood with a brick facade. The Boyd Moving and Storage Building, to the west, dates to 1937 and is poured concrete with wood floors inside.

“You don’t find too many cool old buildings like that, and when you have the opportunity to find one and do something cool with it, it’s a responsibility, and you take that and go do something cool with it,” said Justin Brown, a principal at Marian. “This neighborhood is very, very important to us.”

Brown’s father, Jake, is Marian’s founder. His family has deep roots in Germantown and its nearby neighborhoods, he said, including Paristown and Schnitzelburg. He said he’s watched carefully as the neighborhood has changed during the past decade, with an influx of young professionals seeking quality housing at a lower price point than neighborhoods to the east and the restaurants, bars and retail that have followed.

The proposed development is a bookend with the Germantown Mill Lofts, the Underhill Associates project at the former Goss Avenue Antique Mall. It could also bring a new energy to that portion of Oak Street, which is a connector between Germantown and the Highlands, said Jake Brown.

“We see this as a really natural bridge between Germantown and that Barret and Baxter corridor in the Highlands,” he said. “It’s that last movement east as you come across.”

The group presented the plans to the Germantown-Paristown Neighborhood Association last Monday. They drew a warm response. Metro Councilman Steve Magre, D-10, who represents the neighborhood, said the neighbors are “very excited this conversion is in the works.”

Marian has a long history of adaptive reuse of older and historic structures. The developer is behind the Central Park Lofts and a number of other smaller-scale residential projects. It’s perhaps best-known for its work developing the four Family Scholar House campuses in Louisville.

Justin Brown said the firm would submit its first round of applications to Metro planning officials in the coming weeks. —Stephen George

University of Louisville farming out PR services

U of L President James Ramsey
U of L President James Ramsey

The University of Louisville Foundation and President James Ramsey have taken a beating in the press lately — for generous deferred compensation payments provided to both him and top university execs, plus Ramsey’s hefty tax gross-ups — and currently are the subject of an investigation by state Auditor Adam Edelen.

With all of this increased scrutiny, the university has begun the process of farming out some of its public relations duties to an outside firm.

In the July 17 issue of Business First, U of L bought an advertisement listing an RFP seeking the services of “a small to mid-size public relations firm to assist with communications strategies for the University of Louisville, the University of Louisville Foundation, Inc., and other entities.” The budgeted range of fees for the contract is $50,000 to $75,000 per year, and the selected firm is to begin Aug. 1.

But for the past few weeks, the university already has been using Tim Mulloy from the PR firm Peritus on media requests related to “the recent flap over compensation,” according to university spokesman Mark Hebert. He says the RFP’s goal is finding someone to continue the services that Mulloy has been providing.

Hebert later added that the new firm is to provide assistance while he takes over the new programming at 93.9 FM, which is added to his current duties as the director of media relations. Hebert says the university’s nonprofit Foundation “is advancing funding to hire the firm while we seek new revenue from promotions and sponsorships.”

Among the criteria listed in the RFP for the new firm is “creativity in the strategies to protect and advance the University’s or other entities’ reputation in the city and state” and “ability to influence public opinion regarding the University of Louisville, U of L Foundation, etc., favorably” among student markets, elected leaders and philanthropic markets. —Joe Sonka

Liquor Barn in St. Matthews on the rocks?

A bourbon-loving source recently told IL the Shelbyville Road Liquor Barn is closing in August. Assuming this source might have had a cocktail or two (or three) before divulging this info (and because we’re reporters, of course), we thought it best to check it out for ourselves. And so we trekked out to the St. Matthews Liquor Barn at 4301 Shelbyville Road and discovered a buy-­one-­get-­one-­free sale on all merchandise except for liquor, coupled with barren aisles.

IMG_0644When asked if the store was closing, the clerk said,“No comment.” We then asked to speak with a manager, to no avail. Subsequent attempts to get the reason behind this blowout sale — which began July 6 — were equally fruitless, with another blasé cashier saying, “Nope, we’re not closing. Just spring cleaning.” And emails to the store’s assistant manager, Bob Willinger, went unanswered.

This particular Liquor Barn, you might recall, has been on the losing end of a long, drawn-out dispute with Beverage Warehouse across the street. Beverage Warehouse claims Liquor Barn, which opened in 2009, is violating state law by operating within 700 feet of another package liquor purveyor. The state ABC Board ruled in favor of Beverage Warehouse in late 2013 and ordered Liquor Barn to close, though LB was permitted to remain open pending the outcome of an appeal.

We called Liquor Barn’s attorney, Ken Handmaker of Middleton Reutlinger, for an update on that appeal and to inquire about the rumored closure. According to Handmaker, the case is pending in the state Court of Appeals, and he expects a decision this week. When asked whether Liquor Barn might be closing, he said, “I know you’ve probably heard rumors, and I have, too. All I can say at this time is that I’ll have a more definitive answer mid-week.”

In the meantime, we can wholeheartedly recommend stocking up on cheese and party supplies at the Shelbyville Road Liquor Barn — which, by the way, has no affiliation with the other six Liquor Barn franchises in Louisville. —Sara Havens and Sarah Kelley

In Brief

Almost Family in major buying mode: Louisville senior care firm Almost Family has been on the buyout warpath and is spending big bucks to make it happen. On July 23, the firm announced it had purchased Ingenios Health Co., a Florida company that provides in-home clinical assessments for Medicare Advantage, Managed Medicaid, and Commercial Exchange in seven states and Washington, D.C., using proprietary tablet-based technology. Almost Family acquired 100 percent of Ingenios in a deal valued at $13.5 million, using a combination of cash and Almost Family stock.

Ingenios gives Almost Family entry into the growing health assessment market. In 2014, nurse practitioners for the firm conducted 10,000 in-home assessments. John Shermyen, CEO of Ingenios, will stay on at the new firm and head Almost Family’s Healthcare Innovations segment. In a public statement, Almost Family CEO William Yarmuth said the acquisition of Ingenios will improve his firm’s care planning and deliver “meaningful cost savings.”

In other Almost Family news, the firm soon will undergo regulatory review regarding its $51 million offer to purchase WillCare HealthCare, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based firm providing home health care services. If all goes smoothly, the proposed transaction should be reviewed Aug. 6. WillCare has 11 branches and serves patients in New York, Connecticut, and Ohio. —David Serchuk

Former Groucho’s space on Goss may become an upscale bar: We came across this tidbit on the GermanParistown Neighborhood Association‘s blog: Apparently, the former Groucho’s Bar space at 953 Goss Ave. in Germantown may be transformed into an upscale bar — if all goes well after an inspection by the interested lessee. David Gilbert, a partner behind the concept, says he is interested in the space but will know more once an inspection and meeting with the owner take place. Given the Germantown Mill Lofts are slated to open across the street later this year, plus plans for the lofts mentioned above, that strip of Goss should be prime real estate. We’ll keep you updated. —Sara Havens

Tony Schy hiring for new business: It’s an open secret that Tony Schy, former general manager at Velocity, is starting a new business. And most people know what it is, but he’s still not talking. That said, he did post a lengthy job opening that makes the following clear: “Coming to Louisville this fall, a first-of-its-kind gaming venue designed to engage players in ways never before seen. Think of us as the next generation field of play for the console- and PC-based games played by millions worldwide.” Interested in being the general manager? You need at least two years of experience managing people and business expenses. And it helps if you like video games. The full job listing is here. —Melissa Chipman

Fancy new boutique alert: A new “lifestyle boutique” is slated to open on Lexington Road at the end of August. Liv Boutique will be located in the former Century Shop antique store, next to Blink Boutique. Owner Lucie Stansbury plans to feature fashion and accessories from “emerging designers,” as well as “high-end” home goods and lifestyle products. The grand opening, “Couture and Cocktails,” will be held Aug. 27 at 5 p.m. The store will offer specials all weekend. It’s located at 3704 Lexington Road. —Melissa Chipman

UPS Foundation gives Kentucky Center $15,000 grant: The Kentucky Center for the Arts just received a boost for its philanthropic ArtsReach program, courtesy of the UPS Foundation. The grant will be used to help the center give underserved youth access to arts performances and education opportunities. According to the news release, ArtsReach began in 1991 to ensure the arts are not an afterthought in the lives of children and their families, who might otherwise be unable to afford seeing a play or attending an orchestra performance. The generous support of donors like the UPS Foundation is what makes programs like ArtsReach possible,” said Kim Baker, president of the Kentucky Center, in the release. “With this grant, the Kentucky Center will be able to inspire even more deserving Metro Louisville children and their families through the arts.”

Last year, UPS invested more than $104.2 million in charitable giving around the world. —Sara Havens

BBB solicits for Torch Awards: The Better Business Bureau has put out a call for nominations for its annual Torch Awards, which celebrate businesses and nonprofits that have ethical practices and promote the importance of having a fair and honest business community. Organizations can self-nominate and anyone can nominate an organization. Once a company is nominated it will be contacted with instructions for applying to the awards. Nominees do not need to be a member of the BBB, but they must be in good standing, and they must have been operating for at least three years.

Past Torch Award winners include AcuDent, Pool Man, Action Pest Control, Texas Roadhouse, Just Creations, Hosparus, A Arnold, Rescare, Marketing Mechanics, PetFirst, and Family Health Centers. Nominations should include the name of the company or organization, their contact information (address, phone, website, and/or email), and the reason for the nomination. Email all nominations to [email protected]org or mail them to The BBB at 844 S. Fourth St. Louisville, KY 40203. The deadline is Sept. 4. —Melissa Chipman

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