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.
Work to begin on Botanical Gardens in early fall
See correction appended.
The project manager for Waterfront Botanical Gardens development at Waterfront Park told members of the Waterfront Development Corp. board of directors Wednesday that — pending city review — work on the long-awaited attraction could start as early as Sept. 1.
The 23.5-acre Botanical Gardens features the 5,000-square-foot Graeser Family Education Center, water features, a visitors center, an open lawn and multiple gardens, including an edible garden, children’s garden and sensory garden.
The project is being spearheaded by an 24-year-old botany organization called Botanica. Planning for a botanical garden started back in 2005.
The WDC board approved the design but asked that changes be made to the drainage system and that low vegetation be planted to hide the parking lot from view when drivers pass by on Interstate 71. The education center, however, will be visible from the interstate “because it’s such an attractive building,” David Karem, WDC’s president said.
While ground preparation work will start in the fall, construction of the educational building will get underway in the spring. The site preparation and building construction will take a total of 18 to 24 months to complete.
“This has been such a long time coming,” said Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, chief of Louisville Forward. “It is spectacular design.”
Waterfront Botanical Gardens will be built in several phases, and Botanica has raised $4.7 million needed for the first part of Phase 1, which includes the educational center, but is hoping to raise another $1.7 million before the end of this year.
“Once you start seeing some real work being done on it, it lends to the public understand of this is really going to happen,” Karem said, which should help drive more donations. —Caitlin Bowling
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated how long it will take to construct the Graeser Family Education Center. It will take 12 months to build and a total of 18 to 24 months for the building construction and site preparation. A previous version of this story also incorrectly stated the size of the education center because of an error in public documents.
TIER REIT leaves market after striking $71.5 million deal
Texas-based real estate investment firm TIER REIT has sold its last five properties it owns in Louisville, leaving the local market.
TIER REIT sold approximately 678,000 square feet for $71.5 million to WMRBNA Fund, another real estate investment group. The properties include Forum Office Park on Hurstbourne Parkway, Hunnington and Steeplechase Place office buildings on Bunsen Parkway, Lakeview on Mallard Creek Road and One Oxmoor on Bullitt Lane.
A Cushman & Wakefield office in Tennessee represented the buyer, and local firm Commercial Kentucky, which has a partnership with Cushman & Wakefield corporate, represented the seller.
Cushman & Wakefield corporate will manage the buildings, while Commercial Kentucky will handle the leasing.
“They bought it purely as an investment. They really like the stabilized income of it,” said Craig Collins, senior director of Commercial Kentucky. “I am sure they will do upgrades in the future, but right now, they are going to run it as it is.”
The office spaces sold in the deal are 92 percent leased, he said.
“The buyer is a very well-capitalized buyer and likes the income and has the financial capability to add to the product,” Collins said. “They will be long-term, a great owner for Louisville.”
Insider reached out to TIER REIT to ask about its decision to leave and whether the company plans to ever return to the Louisville market. A representative for the company declined to comment beyond what the brief statement in a press release.
“Our exit from the Louisville market is another important milestone for TIER REIT, and our reallocation of capital from Louisville and into Legacy District is another example of our strategic recycling efforts,” Scott Fordham, president and CEO of TIER REIT, said in the press release.
Architectural Artisans, Gill Holland team up for new mixed-use Portland development
Portland Stroll District LLC, headed by Gill Holland, recently filed plans with the city for a small mixed-use development in the Portland neighborhood.
The project plans include constructing a 9,742-square-foot building on a vacant infill site at the corner of Portland Ave. and 26th Street near Shaheens Department Store.
The second floor would house six residential units, and the roughly 4,800 square feet on the first floor would be split up into four commercial spaces for various business. Plans call for 15 parking spaces for residential and commercial tenants.
“The addition of this mixed-use development will contribute to the neighborhood core by extending available commercial space and residential options,” Architectural Artisans principal architect Jeff Rawlins wrote in a letter.
The neighborhood council Portland Now Inc. submitted a letter to the city stating that its members would support the development if the developers add brick or other masonry material on two sides of the building rather than corrugated metal, ensure that the design of the building melds with the historic nature of the neighborhood, and change how cars enter and exit the property to promote pedestrian safety.
Toyota starts production on new Camry
Toyota this week started production of the 2018 Camry at the Georgetown plant, its largest in the world, with 8,000 employees.
The automaker said the 2018 Camry “will set the benchmark in the midsize sedan segment” and is the first North American vehicle that was designed and manufactured with Toyota New Global Architecture, “a completely new strategy to the way the company designs, engineers, and manufactures its vehicles.”
The automaker had announced this year that it would invest $1.3 billion at the plant to support TNGA and for other improvements that would modernize and streamline production. The company said its Kentucky operation supports about 30,000 jobs.
Toyota said in a press release that the 2018 Camry “has a sleeker profile that offers improved aerodynamics, a lower center of gravity, and a more rigid body, allowing for a more comfortable and stable ride. It also features more sound-absorbing insulation, vibration dampening materials and more premium materials on all surfaces.
While the company provided a 47-page document with lots of detailed information, including engine specs, shoulder room and the presence of Tiger Eye wood interior trim — it did not mention pricing. The 2017 model start at about $23,000.
ZEGGZ Amazing Eggs closes one of its locations
Local restaurant chain ZEGGZ Amazing Eggs has dropped its original store on the corner of Chamberlain Lane and U.S. 22 off the menu.
“Chamberlain opened, and we immediately began scouting for the next two locations. During the process, the idea of testing the menu as a fast-casual brunch rather than the traditional full-service model came into play,” ZEGGZ president and co-owner Ashton Lockhart, said in a news release.
With two fast-casual locations, one in Middletown and another on Lime Kiln Lane, succeeding, ZEGGZ owners decided to close the original full-service location and focus on growing as a fast-casual brand, the release states.
“We tried and tried and tried to retrofit (the Chamberlain Lane) store, but it didn’t work,” said Craig Stevenson, ZEGGZ’s brand strategist. There was not enough room to have a sizable queue as well as enough seats, he added.
The roughly 30 employees at the store have been offered jobs at other ZEGGZ locations.
Thirsty Pedaler to host grand opening of its new Fourth Street Live digs
It’s been a few years since The Thirsty Pedaler pedaled its way into the hearts and social calendars of Louisvillians looking for a unique way to spend the night out on the town. And now, they’ve relocated their headquarters to where the downtown action is at Fourth Street Live.
The 16-passenger pub-crawl experience will host a grand opening on Friday, July 7, starting at 10:30 a.m. IL hears there may be an appearance by the mayor, popcorn, gift bags and a raffle for a free weekend ride on the bike for you and your friends.
“I am so overjoyed and beyond thankful for all of the ongoing support that friends, family, Fourth Street Live and the customers have been giving to us here at The Thirsty Pedaler,” said co-owner Jennifer Benningfield. “I cannot wait to share this day with all of our supporters and show how grateful and excited we truly are.”
Four Roses opens its newly renovated 60,000-square-foot bottling facility
Of course, a bourbon distillery is going to celebrate the opening of a new bottling facility with a toast, and that’s exactly what transpired on Tuesday as folks gathered and raised glasses at the Four Roses Warehouse & Bottling Facility in Cox’s Creek, Ky.
The newly renovated bottling facility is 60,000 square feet and houses two bottling lines, support areas and office space.
The $10.4 million project began in 2015 and is part of Four Roses’ overall expansion plan, which the company is investing $55 million in to double its distillation capacity, increase warehouse space and increase bottling and packaging abilities — all with a focus on safety, quality and efficiency.
The facility also includes new filtration and chilling systems, bourbon processing equipment and high-speed bottling lines for its yellow label and small-batch brands.
Now, if we could just find a bottle of that newly released 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon, we’d be set. —Sara Havens
National basketball tournaments will bring nearly $40 million to city over 5 years
Two national basketball tournaments are coming to the Kentucky Exposition Center, and over the next five years, they will bring almost $40 million to the Louisville area, according to Amanda Storment, vice president of communications at Kentucky Venues.
During July, the tournaments will bring over 1,200 teams and 17,000 attendees to the Expo Center. Competitors, attendees, media personnel and recruiters will not only pay admission to the tournament but will stay in Louisville’s hotels and visit attractions like Kentucky Kingdom, generating $38.5 million for the city by 2021, Storment said.
The two tournaments — Run for the Roses and Battle in the Boro — are national girls basketball tournaments for grades 8 through 11. They were relocated to Louisville from Lexington and Nashville, primarily because of the Expo Center’s large tournament space, she said.
Run for the Roses is the first tournament, spanning July 5-8. This year, competitors and attendees at Run for the Roses will be able to attend the Inspiration Celebration on July 7 in Freedom Hall. This celebration will offer live speakers and music, and it is one of the final events of this summer’s I Am Ali festival. Tickets to the Inspiration Celebration are $15, and it starts at 7:30.
Adult admission to Run for the Roses is $20 for a day pass and $55 for a full tournament pass. Battle in the Boro is the second tournament, and this year it will be held July 10 to 13. —Peter Champelli
This post has been updated to correct the name of Kentucky Venues.
Pet diagnostics tool maker to invest $6M
Pet health care company IDEXX plans to invest $6 million and create 100 jobs in a Louisville laboratory.
Filings with the state show that IDEXX, based in Westbrook, Maine, wants to build “a regional lab to serve the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes and the Upper Midwest.”
The company provides veterinarians with IT-based products, services such as parasite screening, and diagnostic tools such as urine and blood analyzers.
IDEXX said its Louisville investments would include $1.8 million on rent, $3.5 million on equipment and $750,000 on other startup costs. The state has preliminarily approved a tax incentive of $1 million.
Filings with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority show that IDEXX initially would employ 35, which would expand to 100 by year five. Employees on average would receive hourly wages of $30, including benefits.
The company could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
In its most recent quarter, IDEXX reported $69 million in net income, up 50 percent from a year earlier. Revenue, at $462 million, was up 10.6 percent.
The company said in a recent report that U.S. households spend about $765 per year on pets, which is more than they spend on cable and satellite TV. IDEXX said the global companion animal diagnostic and veterinary software market is about $3.3 billion, and IDEXX controls about 40 percent. —Boris Ladwig