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.

Two new tenants sign on for Butchertown development

Shown is one of the house Andy Blieden plans to redevelop into a business. | Photo By Caitlin Bowling
Shown is one of the houses Andy Blieden plans to redevelop into a business. | Photo By Caitlin Bowling

Spots at developer Andy Blieden’s Butcherblock are going quickly.

“I have more people who want spots than I have spots,” Blieden said, adding that he is ahead of schedule on the development he started in August. “I kind of can’t believe it.”

Insider Louisville broke the news that Blieden has acquired nine properties on East Main, East Washington and North Wenzel streets. Four of those will be renovated and become rental homes, but the remaining five will house businesses. The first tenant signed was a new home goods boutique called Stag & Doe that plans to open in late winter or early spring next year.

With limited spaces, Blieden said he’s been picky about tenants.

“It has to be something that is really good and interesting and makes sense (for Butchertown),” he said.

The latest tenants to make the cut are a photographer and future specialty shop owner.

Erin Caricofe, who currently works part-time at Farm to Fork, is opening a specialty food and arts and crafts store at 1015 E. Main St. in the spring. Andrew McCawley hopes to open his first gallery and studio at 1009 E. Main St. in March.

A photo taken by Andrew McCawley | Courtesy of Andrew McCawley
A photo taken by Andrew McCawley | Courtesy of Andrew McCawley

Currently, McCawley does on-location photoshoots, senior portraits and other jobs. The new studio space will enable McCawley to have regular shows with photos from one to three regional photographers.

“I would like for it to be a platform for creative photographers. I’m really driven and passionate about creating this for myself and my city,” said McCawley, who thinks a small art gallery will fit in well in the neighborhood.

Erin Caricofe said the proximity to NuLu and the new businesses opening, including Butchertown Grocery and other concepts in Butcherblock, make Butchertown a prime spot for her specialty store.

The store, called FoodCraft, will sell a mixture of food items and arts and crafts from small-time vendors around the United States. Items will include vinegars, salts from the West Coast, jams, and tea towels. Prices will range from $3 to $300.

Turtleback Ridge Farm jams and Hearth & Harrow towels will be sold at FoodCraft. | Courtesy of FoodCraft
Turtleback Ridge Farm jams and Hearth & Harrow towels will be sold at FoodCraft. | Courtesy of FoodCraft

“I am one small business supporting a lot of other small businesses,” Caricofe said.

All the foods sold at FoodCraft will be high quality, all-natural with no preservatives or additives, she said.

Since FoodCraft won’t open until spring, she is hosting pop-up events and will be at the new Holiday Square market at Fourth and Jefferson streets.

Caricofe has some starter money but is considering applying for a Kiva Zip loan or running a crowdfunding campaign to help with the costs. She may also sell gift cards at a discounted rate in advance of opening.

“It is a way to get initial revenue.” —Caitlin Bowling

WHY Louisville stores in weird limbo

WHY Louisville's stores are close for good.
WHY Louisville’s stores are closed for good. Or are they?

On Tuesday, we reported that, sadly, owner Will Russell was closing the doors of his two iconic WHY Louisville stores immediately. He cited his very public personal crisis — struggles with mental health and addiction — as the reason and vowed to make his health and his family the first priority.

Back in October, we reported that Cyndi Masters of DBS Interactive snapped up rights to the name WHY Louisville when Russell failed to file annual paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office.

IL checked in with Masters on her plans, and it turns out she’s been busy trying to save the brand. Masters said she spoke to Russell early on during his inpatient treatment, adding, “I have written him and let him know that I believe Why Louisville is an anchor to Louisville culture and that I would like to salvage the brand with his blessing.”

Masters said she is talking to landlords, banks and attorneys. She also wants to talk to old staff members who may want to help resurrect the stores.

IL asked Masters what would happen if Russell wouldn’t give his blessing. Masters responded: “I’m going to do what is possible that is good for the community and doesn’t hurt anyone. The same way I try to live all of my life.”

It’s also worth noting that Russell has declared bankruptcy, as reported by The Courier-Journal.

And there’s still no word on the future of Lebowski Fest, which Russell co-founded. IL has reached out to a Lebowski Fest rep for more information but has not yet heard back. — Melissa Chipman

Metals processing company investing millions in Louisville

MISA Metal Processing plans to spend $3.8 million to expand its Louisville operations, an investment prompted by growth in the North American automotive industry, CFO Steve Jilek tells IL.

The expansion will will create seven jobs, bringing the company’s Louisville workforce to 49.

According to filings with the city, the company will spend about $1.2 million to add a 65,000-square-foot warehouse to its facility at 7300 Global Drive, in southwestern Louisville. Jilek said construction is expected to be completed in March.

MISA Metal Processing plans to invest $3.8 million to expand its Louisville operations.
MISA Metal Processing plans to invest $3.8 million to expand the its Louisville facility at 7300 Global Drive.

MISA Metal Processing is seeing increased business from existing and new automotive customers, Jilek said. The facility gets steel coils from steel mills and cuts it into smaller pieces before sending the product to stamping operations, which then supply automakers.

MISA’s metal processing operation is based in Portland, Tenn., and is a subsidiary of Marubeni-Itochu Steel America, which is part of Tokyo-based Marubeni-Itochu Steel.

The metals processing subsidiary also has a facility in Birmingham, Ala., and this summer announced the completion of a 60,000-square-foot expansion in Mississippi. The company said it needed additional capacity for business in the South.

Jilek said the metals processing division plans to expand further, particularly in the Midwest and the South.

The Louisville facility has existed since 1996 and previously was known as Nova Steel Processing.

The parent company said in an earnings report this month that while the global economy showed signs of expansion in Europe and the U.S., “a growing sense of slowdown surrounding the Chinese economy impeded development in emerging nations.”Boris Ladwig

KY unemployment rate falls to 4.9 percent in October, jobs rise by 5,800

Kentucky’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in October, the lowest it has been since May of 2001, according to the new federal Current Population Survey of households.

Though the number of respondents indicating they are employed has steeply declined by 60,000 since April, that number increased by 1,661 from September to October, with the numbers of individuals who are unemployed but still seeking work declining by 3,214.

In a separate federal survey of employers, nonfarm employment increased by 5,800 jobs in October — and 31,800 jobs over the past year — continuing a steady increase in jobs since 2010. Manufacturing jobs increased by 1,700 in October, and jobs in the educational and health services sector rose by 1,200. The only sector to decrease was the government sector, which lost 2,300 jobs. —Joe Sonka

Bill Weyland has 10 more years of building planned for eastern edge of downtown

Developer Bill Weyland | Photo by Caitlin Bowling
Developer Bill Weyland | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Recent reports by Broken Sidewalk and the C-J have detailed plans Louisville developer Bill Weyland has for repurposing the 125-year-old Louisville Chemical Building at Jefferson and Hancock streets.

Weyland told IL that transforming the building into an apartment building with first floor retail is part of a master plan that includes renovating more buildings and opening Jefferson Street to two-way traffic. He already has the development rights for additional properties and has drawn up a master plan for them.

“We create master plans that define where we are going,” he said, adding that he expects to develop buildings in NuLu, Liberty Green and the downtown medical district for 10 more years to help those areas continue to slowly grow.

Transformation doesn’t happen in the short-term, said Weyland, managing member of development company City Properties Group.

Weyland already has constructed [email protected] apartments, which sits catty-corner to the Louisville Chemical Building; the Edge at Liberty Green, which houses medical students who attend school nearby; and The Quad Apartments, which also are rented to medical students. His objective now is to build a mass of residents who will attract businesses.

“Everything works in concert with each other,” Weyland told IL. “As we get more residents, there will be additional opportunities for restaurants and retail.”

One hinderance, however, could be Jefferson Street, he said. The street needs to be turned into a two-way road, providing people easier access to Liberty Green and the medical district and making it safer by slowing vehicles.

“It is critical from my standpoint,” Weyland said.

The Louisville Chemical Building is not a done deal yet. The project is contingent on Weyland securing tax credits, including historic tax credits and money from the EPA for necessary abatement work.

“The tax credits allow you to spend more money,” he said.

If the rental rates of a project are appraised at $7 million, and it receives $3 million in tax credits, for example, City Properties Group can then invest $10 million in the project with the hope that rent will rise and justify the investment, Weyland said.

“It allows me to build a better project than the market might dictate.” —Caitlin Bowling

Michter’s finally releases its 2015 10- and 20-Year bourbons

All I want for Christmas ...
All I want for Christmas …

When Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt sampled the bourbon earlier this year from his 10- and 20-Year barrels, he knew they had a few more months of aging to do before they were ready to hit the town. Nicknamed “Dr. No” for being a stickler on bourbon quality, Pratt and company are finally releasing the bourbons into the market next month.

“These two bourbons were set for release at the beginning of this year, but I held them back for a bit more aging,” he said in a press release. “I wanted them to be just right.”

The Michter’s 10-Year retails for $120 a bottle, while the 20-Year goes for a hefty $600. But it is nearly Christmas time, so hopefully Santa has a couple of those on his list for us. —Sara Havens

River Ridge expanding key road, negotiating additional property sales

The possible construction of a 1.5 million-square-foot building at the 6,000-acre Southern Indiana business park River Ridge Commerce Center was the big news out of the River Ridge Development Authority’s meeting this week, but it wasn’t the only news.

The oversight board approved resolutions related to the sale of additional property and expansion of the business park’s infrastructure. Here are the highlights:

  • The board agreed to hire lowest bidder T&C Contracting Inc. for $2.73 million to complete proposed improvements to International Drive, according to the resolution. The project includes extending the road 3,300 feet and building out the water and sewer lines near two parcels that RRDA executive director Jerry Acy is actively negotiating the sale of, The News and Tribune reported.
  • Acy is negotiating the sale of 32.95 acres of land on Paul Garrett Avenue to an unnamed buyer that plans to build a 458,640-square-foot warehouse building on the property. RRDA is looking to sell the land for no less than $1.9 million, which includes a $250,000 credit to the potential buyer to move a water main and remediate a sinkhole, according to the resolution.
  • Acy also is negotiating the sale of 6.8 acres next to pharmaceutical company BriovaRx’s operations on Patrol Road for no less than $816,000 to an unnamed buyer that plans to construct a 50,000-square-foot medical center on the land, according the resolution. The buyer also wants an option on an additional 3.762 acres where it could add an 18,000-square-foot facility.
  • RRDA and Mid-America Rail Storage & Leasing have come to a legal settlement over the railroad tracks that Mid-America uses at River Ridge. The authority has the right to claim the tracks using eminent domain laws and tear them up to make way for development, but it has agreed not to do so. RRDA instead will pay Mid-America $25 per linear foot of railroad track with the first section, referred to as Bucket A, consisting of about 61,675 feet. It must buy all of Bucket A within three years. —Caitlin Bowling

Mixed-use development coming to Jeffersontown

Real estate developer Chris Thieneman plans to build a small mixed-use complex at 10104 Grand Ave., near Taylorsville Road and Old Six Mile Lane in Jeffersontown.
The development will consist of a proposed three-story apartment building, two separate office buildings and a 3,100-square-foot beauty shop.

Thieneman proposes converting two existing single-family homes — one that is 1,300 square feet and another that is 900 square feet — into office spaces. An existing storage facility will be renovated for use as a beauty salon, according to plans filed with the city.

The plans also call for the construction of a new 13,500-square-foot apartment building with 12 rental units and a total of 39 parking spaces that can be split between the apartments and commercial businesses, the plans state. A small shop on the property will be demolished to allow for some of the parking.

Thieneman did not return calls for comment about the project and what businesses plan to move into the development. —Caitlin Bowling

Johnson Controls to invest $1 million in Louisville

Johnson Controls Inc. plans to invest $1 million to occupy part of a new 315,000-square-foot building south of the Louisville International Airport.

The Milwaukee-based company plans to renovate 20,000 square feet in the LogistiCenter at 8401 Air Commerce Drive to create offices and an employee support area, according to filings with the city.

Front of the LogistiCenter brochure.
Front of the LogistiCenter brochure.

The LogistiCenter is owned by Dermody Properties, which broke ground on the facility in May of last year. Dermody promotes the building as a “state-of-the-art industrial center perfect for distribution operations.”

Representatives from Dermody and Johnson Controls could not be reached.

Johnson Controls has three major divisions:

  • The building division provides equipment, controls and services for heating, refrigeration and security systems; delivers energy efficiency solutions; and manages 1.8 billion square feet of corporate real estate.
  • Its power solutions unit sells automotive batteries and operates 50 manufacturing, recycling and distribution centers.
  • The company’s automotive segment supplies seating components, but the company said in July that it is spinning off that business into a separate public company.

Johnson Controls employs 130,000 but said in September that it plans to cut 3,000 salaried employees in the next two years to cut costs, the Associated Press reported. Johnson Controls has customers in more than 150 countries.

In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the company reported sales of $8.7 billion, down 12 percent from a year earlier. Earnings per share, however, improved 7.2 percent, to $1.04.

Johnson Controls on Thursday received its first Governor’s Safety and Health Award. Deputy Secretary Rocky Comito of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet presented the award because the company’s 800 employees in Georgetown went more than 1.1 million hours without a lost-time incident.Boris Ladwig

Liquor Barn opens its 16th Kentucky store in Elizabethtown

Liquor Barn's 16th store opens.
Liquor Barn’s 16th store opens.

Liquor Barn opened its doors to a thirsty crowd in Elizabethtown this week, making it the chain’s 16th store in Kentucky. It will be operated out of the company’s U.S. headquarters in Louisville, confirmed press agent Monica Edwards.

Just like our stores here, this location features more than 2,000 spirits, 800 craft beers and 2,200 types of wine. Events ranging from bottle signings to wine and brandy tastings to Pappy raffles are planned this weekend.

Liquor Barn recently was named America’s Best Multiple Outlet Retailer by Whiskey Magazine. The E-Town store is located at 1705 N. Dixie Hwy. —Sara Havens