Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
Advance Ready Mix makes pitch to turn historic church into office
Louisville-based concrete supplier Advance Ready Mix wants to transform the former James Lees Memorial Presbyterian Church in Clifton into offices for the company.
“It’s heartbreaking to watch the church deteriorate,” Camilla Schroeder, the company’s president, told residents and community leaders during a neighborhood meeting about the project this week. “We are excited to be able to repurpose a very important building to our family.”
Schroeder’s family — you may have heard of them, the Abels of Abel Construction Co. Inc. — attended services at the Presbyterian church when she was young.
The church was built by renowned architect Samuel Plato and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. However, the church shut down earlier this year, according to Broken Sidewalk. And according to Schroeder, it is in disrepair.
Advance Ready Mix wants to rezone the property and turn the inside of the church into 13,200 square feet of office space for 12 to 16 employees and the fellowship hall into meeting space. Advance will maintain its other offices in Louisville.
Renovations are estimated to cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, Schroeder said.
Guidelines for repurposing a historic church will require Advance to create an open office space to show the size and scale of the original worship space. The company also will need to install an elevator in the three-story building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Project architect Laura Leach said the outside of the building will remain pretty much the same. Leach works for the aforementioned Abel Construction, which will handle the renovations.
Advance Ready Mix is seeking city and state tax credits to help fund the project.
The company also is considering putting a retail shop, such as a coffee shop or bookstore, in a 500-square-foot building attached to the church.
The project, though in the early stages, has received positive feedback from the volunteer-run Clifton Community Council. “That would be a real feather in the cap of our neighborhood,” said council member Micheal O’Leary.
Martina Kunnecke, president of the nonprofit Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, also gave her preliminary stamp of approval. “Kudos for saving the building,” she said.
The main concern among meeting attendees was parking. They feared employees would take spots on the street from residents or other businesses.
Advance is in talks with nearby metal-stamping company Anson Stamping Co. about either leasing or buying off-street parking spaces for employees. The company also is considering adding three parking spaces inside the church on its lowest level by cutting an entrance for vehicles into the side of the building.
Advance Ready Mix plans to submit a formal rezoning application to the city on Oct. 19.
(Speaking of Advance Ready Mix … we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a bit of unflattering news about the company in recent months, beginning with IL’s April investigation into the company’s potentially fraudulent dealings with the Metropolitan Sewer District via its Supplier Diversity Program. You can read our most recent coverage on that topic by clicking here and here.) —Caitlin Bowling
New concept opening in former Loop 22 space
When Loop 22 closed in May, co-owners and chefs Adam Burress and Chance Mucerino promised to open a new restaurant at that Douglas Loop location — something more casual to fit the building’s atmosphere.
We now know that Migo, a taco-focused restaurant, will open in the space next month.
The new restaurant is “hard to put any one label on,” Mucerino told Insider Louisville. The menu is incomplete, but it will be taco heavy and include a variety of appetizers.
With some work still left to do, Mucerino declined to say anything more about Migo.
His partner in the concept, Burress, is on a European vacation until next week, but after that, the duo will throw themselves into completing the concept. “Once I get back, it is pretty much go time,” Burress said. —Caitlin Bowling
CNET buys local house, turning it into genius house of the future
The appliance division of CNET, the online product and tech review site, has purchased a huge home out in the ‘burbs of Louisville. They plan to do all of their smart-home product testing and reviews from the home and integrate the connected technologies to make this the smartest house possible.
The house, located on 1 acre in a “rural golf course community,” has four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a three-car garage and a pool, complete with a waterfall.
CNET plans to use the house to help answer questions like: “Can you really get your smart window shades, your lights, your coffee maker and your music all synced up into some kind of morning routine, for example? Would anyone want that? At what price?”
Take a tour of what will become the house of the future on their website. It’s pretty swanky. —Melissa Chipman
Jeffersonville reveals new master plan for development
The city of Jeffersonville, Ind., has been the benefactor of unexpected development in recent years driven by the Ohio River Bridges Project and the Big Four Bridge.
The Big Four pedestrian bridge has given pedestrians and bicyclists a reason to travel from Louisville to Jeffersonville, with many of them patronizing downtown Jeffersonville businesses before crossing back to Kentucky.
And in the near future, the new Interstate 65 bridge and the East End Bridge will make it easier than ever to enter Jeffersonville.
The city’s most recent master plan was drafted in 2007. The bridges projects might have been a twinkle in a politician’s eye at the time, but the plans were nowhere near coming to fruition.
As a result, Jeffersonville has hired Louisville consulting firm Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group to draft a new master plan, looking as far forward as 2035.
“The quality of life will be continually improved through well connected and planned corridors, shopping and dining options, strong neighborhoods and distinctive public spaces,” the recently released plan states.
The 135-page master plan focuses on six development areas: 10th Street; the gateway to the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center; the Jeffersonville side of Veterans Parkway; downtown and Falls Landing Park near the Big Four Bridge; the gateway area just north of Interstate 265; and the gateway just south of Interstate 265 along 10th Street.
Although the plan includes broad goals, such as encouraging small business development, other goals are more specific, like improving lighting and landscaping along 10th Street; charging developers an impact fee to help pay for infrastructure improvements; and working with TARC to improve transportation.
The master plan also makes contingencies for unexpected changes that will impact development by requiring the city to review and, if necessary, amend the plan once a year as well as perform a more comprehensive update to the plan every five years. —Caitlin Bowling
Developer Bill Weyland makes plea for improved tax credit program
After thanking his 11-day-old granddaughter for attending the Main Street Project Preview Party at the Ice House this week and reminiscing about the beginnings of a now lively Main Street, prominent Louisville developer Bill Weyland made his plea for better tax incentives in Kentucky.
“Kentucky has a very weak tax credit program,” he said, compared to states such as Minnesota, Ohio and Missouri. But “through a very great thing, we accidentally got a tax credit program that allowed a 20 percent credit to help with Whiskey Row and to help with the 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington.
“It was very craftily drafted so it would only hit certain projects — two. They weren’t as clever as they thought, and there was a spill over.”
The tax credit actually applied to a total of six projects in Louisville and two in Lexington. Each project had to cost at least $15 million, be started by July 1, and be completed in two years, Weyland said.
One such project is the Starks building at Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Florida-based Hudson Holdings is spending $80 million to transform the building into a mixed-use development with hotel rooms, luxury apartments, offices and retail.
“(The tax credit) has brought in tremendous investment. It is a model for how we have to get our tax credit program set up so that we can compete,” he said.
The state legislature needs to incorporate a more permanent tax credit program, Weyland said.
barre3 studio coming to Frankfort Avenue
The space at 2400 Frankfort Ave., which was formerly a crossfit gym, is currently under construction, so we thought we’d find out what’s going into this prime real estate that borders Clifton and Crescent Hill. Turns out a barre3 studio is in the works, which offers exercise classes that mix yoga and pilates with basic ballet barre techniques.
Barre3 is a franchise concept that originated in Portland, Ore. They’ve got more than 75 studios across the country and about 15 more opening soon, including two in Kentucky — the Louisville location and one in Fort Thomas.
While construction is being done, the folks who will be running the Frankfort Avenue spot are holding “underground” classes and informational sessions to anyone interested. Follow their Facebook page for the latest info. They hope to have barre3 open by early November — just in time for the gluttonous holiday season. —Sara Havens
FirstBuild experiments with pizza to delicious ends
We’ve always known FirstBuild is a magical place. But this week, the GE microfactory was a magical place that made me one of the tastiest pizzas I’ve ever had.
I stopped by FirstBuild to talk to the guys behind their upcoming vlog, “Internet of Tiles” (more on that at a later date). Not only was I treated to a tour of their new “treehouse,” a romper room of sorts with video games and beanbag chairs, but Product Evangelist Taylor Dawson treated me to a few slices of cheese and pepperoni that blew my mind.
They’re testing out their new pizza oven, a wall-mounted oven that replicates a traditional stone oven. The current model takes a little while to heat up — around 30 minutes — but then you can cook bubbly and gooey pizza after pizza in just two minutes flat.
What’s Dawson’s secret? He hand makes the pizza dough with imported Italian flour. The sauce is simply pureed canned San Marzano tomatoes. And the oven: This baby gets mighty, mighty hot and the crust gets bubbly and crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside. I’m not even a huge pizza fan, and I want this oven.
Automotive supplier investing more than $4.4 million in River Ridge facility
The automotive supply company plans to invest $4.4 million in the facility over a five-year period and create 26 jobs by 2017, according to a news release. The business is a joint venture of Detroit-based James Group International and Kentucky-based Toyota Tsusho America.
Magnolia Automotive Services received a $150,000 conditional tax credit from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation that is dependent on the company creating the promised jobs.
The River Ridge operation is Magnolia Automotive Services’ first outside of Mississippi. The new facility will organize and ship auto parts it receives to Toyota production facilities.
“We believe that Indiana, and especially Southern Indiana will be a great place for us to expand our business with Toyota, and we appreciate the proactive efforts of the mayors of Charlestown and New Albany for their strong leadership and the support of One Southern Indiana to make this project happen,” Lorron James, president of Magnolia Automotive Services, said in the release. —Caitlin Bowling
Brown-Forman will break ground in Ireland later this month
For the first time in the company’s history, Brown-Forman is venturing outside the U.S. border to build a distillery and throw its name into the Irish whiskey business. Slane Distillery will be built at the site of the historic Slane Castle Estate north of Dublin, and the groundbreaking ceremony is Sept. 29.
The $50 million investment will create a distillery and visitor’s experience, much like the bourbon distilleries here in Kentucky. This will add about 25 new full-time jobs; construction should be completed by late 2016, and Irish whiskey will be flowing by the spring of 2017.
When B-F first broke the news in June, they expressed excitement with the project, with entering the Irish whiskey realm, and with working alongside the Conynghams, the family that owns Slane Castle.
“Irish whiskey has been one of the fastest growing segments in the global whiskey category over the last few years,” said Lawson Whiting, executive vice president and chief brands and strategy officer for Brown-Forman, “and we’re excited to be partnering with the Conyngham family as we build the new Slane Irish Whiskey Distillery and introduce new Irish whiskeys to the world.”
Talk like a pirate, get free fish
Avast, ye mateys, Long John Silver’s — the Louisville fast-food chain, not the dastardly pirate — is offering a special deal to sea lovers on Saturday, Sept. 19, a.k.a. International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Customers who talk like a pirate will receive a free fish tender, or piece of chicken. True pirates who take the act a plank walk farther and wear their pirate garb to a Long John Silver’s will receive a free two-piece fish (or chicken) tender basket, which includes fries, a drink and hushpuppies.
To qualify as a true pirate, you must wear three of the following: an eyepatch, bandana, hoop earring, knickers, peg leg, pirate hat, pirate shirt, a fake parrot on your shoulder, pirate flag, or skull and crossbones necklace.
“We never take ourselves too seriously, and Talk Like a Pirate Day is the perfect chance to be playful,” Margo Mize, senior vice president of marketing, said in a news release.
Long John Silver’s even has a pirate name generator so customers can come prepared with an alter ego. My pirate name is June Spadroon. What’s yours? —Caitlin Bowling
Correction: The initial version of this post incorrectly referred to Presbyterian church services as “Mass,” which is a term used to describe Catholic services. IL regrets the error.