‘Times Square of St. Matthews’ gets an interesting addition

By David A. Mann
– Reporter, Louisville Business First

Jul 3, 2018, 2:46pm EDT
Updated Jul 3, 2018, 4:54pm

Independence Bank is taking shape in St. Matthews.

Earlier today, crews installed a clock tower cupola atop the building, which is under construction near the intersection of Shelbyville and Westport Roads, as you can see in the photos.

In case you haven’t noticed, the building is designed to replicate Independence Hall in Philadelphia. And the clock tower was put on just in time for Independence Day. (Yes, they planned that.) The structure weighs 16,225 pounds. It was fabricated by Campbellsville Industries, “the steeple people,” which is based in Campbellsville, Ky. According to a news release, it took more than 1,600 working hours to fabricate. It features a 7-foot diameter clock, created by Owensboro Concept Designs.

Independence Bank is based in Owensboro and is new to the Louisville market. It has built a signature location like this one in 12 Kentucky cities where it has established offices, including Paducah, Frankfort, Mayfield, Madisonville, Murray and in its hometown.

A clock tower cupola was installed by construction crews at the Independence Bank construction site in St. Matthews.

These signature locations have a double meaning, Chris Reid, chairman, president and CEO of Independence Bank, told me in an interview today.

They’re an obvious reference to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. But they’re also a nod to banking independence, he said, as the company champions locally made loan decisions.

“It’s a symbol to our community, to our employers and our shareholders,” he said. “We want to be that independent bank that’s there to serve their community.”

The special structure instills a sense of trust when people see it, added Jacob Reid, executive vice president of operations for Independence Bank and Chris Reid’s son.

The St. Matthews location is far from complete. I toured the site yesterday and saw how some of the rooms and features in the 8,500-square-foot building were starting to come together. But it’s still very much a construction site.

Louis Straub, president for the Louisville market, told me the office is expected to be finished by Nov. 1. It’s been under construction since November 2017. The project is being led by general contractor Calhoun Construction Services.

Gross Diamond Co. and St. Matthews Hardware previously were at this site. Independence Bank officials dubbed it the ‘Times Square of St. Matthews’ when the project was announced in 2016. The project is about a $10 million investment for the company. For now, Independence Bank is operating from a temporary headquarters at 2120 High Wickham Place, near Old Henry Road.


NOW OPEN: Check out the new downtown Homewood Suites

By Marty Finley
– Reporter, Louisville Business First

Mar 28, 2018, 1:42pm EDT
Updated Mar 28, 2018, 2:56pm

Another downtown Louisville hotel has opened its doors ahead of the Kentucky Derby.

The 133-room Homewood Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown debuted March 21 at 635 W. Market St., offering another extended-stay downtown option for business and leisure travelers a short walk from the city’s Museum Row.

The eight-story hotel, which stands at 105,000 square feet, is a collaboration between HBGM Partners — a company controlled by Louisville businessman Tim Mulloy and his brothers, Pat and Mark, who own the property — and Louisville real estate development firm Poe Cos.

Indianapolis-based real estate firm REI Real Estate Services also is a partner on the project with the Mulloys and Poe, and White Lodging Services is a partner and manager of the property.

Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services Inc. was the general contractor, and Atlanta-based PFVS Architecture handled the architectural services. The estimated development cost was $25 million, and it took about 15 months to construct.

Jay Nichols, general manager of the new hotel, gave Louisville Business First a tour of the facility on Tuesday afternoon. He said nightly rates start at $179 during the week and $139 on weekends, and the rates vary based on length of stay. He described the typical stay for a downtown hotel of this type at five to 12 days.

“The longer you stay, the lower the rate gets,” he said.

Nichols said the Homewood Suites brand primarily sees business travelers during the week and families during weekends and on special occasions, such as spring break.

The hotel has a large lounge area with flat-screen televisions, a pool table and a small business center. A dining area offers daily complimentary breakfast and an evening social Monday through Thursday. The evening social, he said, includes a full meal and beverages at no charge to guests.

“The travelers who stay a single night still love it because they get breakfast and dinner,” Nichols said.

Another interesting feature is a heated outdoor terrace connected to the lobby area with fire pits, two gas grills and plenty of lounge seating. Nichols said the terrace is open every day of the year.

“It’s nice to have an outdoor feel in a downtown setting,” he said.

The hotel also has an indoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center.

The remaining seven floors are dedicated to the hotel suites, more than 100 of which have studio layouts. The remaining suites are one-bedroom layouts with either a king-sized bed or double queen beds.

Because it is an extended-stay property, each room has a seating area with a pullout sofa and a full kitchen stocked with pots, pans and utensils for cooking. Local art adorns the rooms.

This is the latest in a slew of hotels that have opened in Louisville of late. Last week, we toured the Tru by Hilton Louisville East in Jeffersontown, and the 30-story Omni Louisville Hotel opened its doors downtown in early March.

Also, the extended-stay Marriott Towneplace Suites Louisville North is tentatively set to open in early April next to the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville.

To take a closer look at the new Homewood Suites property, check out the attached slideshow.


Building excitement: Belknap Academic Classroom Building on pace for fall opening

January 2018 progress

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a series to be presented throughout the next several months about the progress being made on UofL’s new classroom building.

The Belknap Campus skyline was altered in September 2016 with the demolition of the iconic Crawford Gym, a building that empowered UofL basketball giants since 1963. The removal took place to make way for the Belknap Academic Classroom Building, scheduled to open by the start of the fall 2018 semester – on time and on budget.

The building sits along South Brook Street, between the Shumaker Research Building and Lutz Hall in the heart of campus. Though it is built using materials that are consistent with the rest of the buildings on campus, the BCAB will be unlike anything that’s ever existed at UofL before – 169,420 gross square feet dedicated entirely to student success.

This “student success” objective will be facilitated through the building’s features:
•20 state-of-the-art active learning classrooms
•A Student Success Center, which includes Resources for Academic Achievement (REACH), Exploratory Advising, First Year Initiatives and student success coordinators
•11 group study rooms
•Seven seminar rooms
•A multipurpose teacher space
•Six chemistry labs
•Four biology labs
•Three physics labs and one anthropology-physics lab

These details just scratch the surface of what the new building will offer. Its technology-rich, active spaces were created to enable innovative and active learning methods proven to promote student engagement. Evidence suggests that active learning approaches lead to increased learning gains and academic success. These approaches include flipped classrooms, team-based learning, POGIL (process oriented guided inquiry learning), problem-based learning, cooperative learning, collaborative learning.

“The focus is on students learning in groups, working together, sharing information and working with the latest technologies,” said John Stratton, UofL senior architect. “To support that, there are interactive computer systems within the classrooms. It is different from a traditional lecture-style space. It’s more about the interaction between the instructors and students and learning together.”

Stratton has been a part of UofL’s building projects for more than 25 years. While every project is special to him, this one stands out a bit because of its focus on the relatively new method of active learning.

“We always want to make new spaces to meet the challenges of preparing students for the future. It’s an enjoyable challenge,” Stratton said. “You have to always adapt. You can’t always build the same lab every year.”

Stratton said that although the space is a bit different for the BCAB, the approach to its construction was the same as it has always been – meet with consultants, engineers, architects, faculty and administration to discuss the goals of the building and how you achieve them, and then move forward on the construction.

“The main thing is to get the right people together to discuss the needs of these buildings and then go from there,” he said.

Challenges

Though the building’s construction is on time using a proven process, that doesn’t mean the project hasn’t been without its challenges thus far. For starters, the building is in the middle of an operating campus.

“Getting the materials in and out, controlling the noise, all of these things we have to deal with. There have been a few small hiccups, but we’ve solved them quickly, which is key,” Stratton said. “That is our job and sometimes you have to be all-hands-on-deck to meet a challenge.”

The team’s goal was to get the building exterior closed by Thanksgiving break, which it did.

“November 30 was our close-in date, which did not mean all of the brick and glass was complete, but it did mean the building could be maintained at a certain temperature and humidity level. The sheathing and roof were intact by then and the glazing was done,” Stratton said.

Since hitting that enclosure goal, the team has been busy installing metal stud framing and interior sheathing.

“You can now see drywall enclosing the rooms and you can envision what the room spaces look like in an unfinished state,” Stratton said.

Those rooms not only include the state-of-the-art classrooms, but also large public spaces that are purposefully designed to encourage students to stick around between their classes. Stratton describes them as “quasi library spaces.” There are no TVs, but the lounge areas are furnished with upholstered, comfortable chairs and coffee tables. There are power outlets and connectivity options for phones and laptops.

“The building has dedicated gathering spaces for students to rest, hang out and study. That’s the thing about this building in general – it’s a comfortable building. It’s a space you’ll want to stay in. We want it to be a building that is full of people, that is welcoming, comfortable and usable from morning to night,” Stratton said. “The idea is that students get together and communicate with one another about what they’ve learned and they learn more effectively when they can share that information.”

Dining options will be available in the building to encourage students to stick around, with more information coming soon.

The project from a personal perspective

Stratton has worked on the gamut of buildings on both the Belknap and HSC campuses, including innovative medical research projects downtown and athletics facilities. Picking a favorite project would be like picking a favorite child, he said. Still, he can name features about the BCAB that stand out to him personally.

“On all university projects, we always use similar materials, in terms of bricks, for the base. And then we add other materials that maintain the heart of the campus. This building does just that. But it is also one of the first buildings that has major curves in the design and it’s very dramatic in that sense,” Stratton said.

He also notes the open space in front of the building, describing it as a sort of metaphor for reaching out to new students.

“There is a great deal of glass and vision in and out of the building. That is to encourage transparency in a number of ways. We wanted a building where you can see the activity happening in the building and, from the inside, you can see what’s happening outside. This is good not only for security reasons, but to show students that we’re transparent and that we care about them,” Stratton said. “The building is not going to be foreign to campus, but it does sort of jump out and grab your attention.”


Here’s who we snapped at this year’s Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville event (PHOTOS)

Aug 3, 2017, 1:22pm EDT

Louisville Business First honored 25 companies and nonprofits at The Olmsted this morning for our third-annual Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville awards.

The awards recognize local employers who ranked highest on an independent survey distributed by Omaha, Neb.-based Quantum Workplace. The survey asked employees about their office culture and work-life balance. Those answers helped us pinpoint places that offer extraordinary employee-friendly policies, programs and perks.

(If our boss is reading this, we’ll settle for any of those perks.)

Congratulations to all of this year’s Best Places to Work honorees for creating a better company culture. They know that employee happiness directly affects the company’s bottom line.

Brent Schanding manages the special publications and labeled content.

 


Churchill Downs CEO sheds more light on $60M gaming facility, Derby's huge TV showing

Jul 27, 2017, 2:15pm EDT

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said Thursday that the company is finalizing the design for a $60 million historical-race wagering facility at its former Trackside training and simulcast wagering facility on Poplar Level Road in Louisville.

And he vowed it will be both “innovative” and “competitive,” teasing that it could be the start of something bigger for the company.

Last month, CDI (Nasdaq:CHDN) announced plans for the 85,000-square-foot facility, which will offer historical-racie machines — also known as instant racing — that model games on previously run horse races.

The company received conditional approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to establish historical race wagering during a meeting in Frankfort last month.

During CDI’s quarterly earnings call with investors and analysts Thursday morning, Carstanjen said the facility will initially be outfitted with 600 historical racing machines, which are similar to slot machines. If the facility proves successful, he said, the complex will be large enough to bring in more machines as needed.

One analyst asked Carstanjen whether this could be the start of multiple facilities of this type in the company’s portfolio. Although nothing else is planned now, Carstanjen said the company hopes more facilities like this one will follow.

In addition to the machines, the complex will have walk-up food venues with quick-service menus and a bar that will seat as many as 50 people alongside large televisions.

The project is expected to create 450 jobs, including 250 temporary construction jobs. The other 200 full- and part-time employees will operate and manage the facility.

Carstanjen said the goal is to have the facility open by late summer or early fall of 2018.

Bad weather but great ratings for Kentucky Derby

Miserable weather on Kentucky Oaks and Derby days in May prevented CDIfrom breaking live attendance records, but it didn’t dissuade the television viewing audience.

Carstanjen said the Derby earned its highest television audience since 1989, with a peak viewership of more than 19 million people. That was the highest Saturday afternoon television program since the NFL’s NFC divisional playoffs in early January, Carstanjen added.

And despite the bad weather, Kentucky Derby Week attendance this year was about 350,000. Last year’s Derby Week attendance was a record 376,980.

CDI sees revenues soar as Big Fish Games dips

CDI posted second-quarter record net revenue of $451.9 million, a 3 percent increase from a year earlier, and record net income of $78.3 million, a 12 percent increase from the prior year.

The company also reported record net income per share of $4.81, diluted, which was 17 percent higher than the previous year.

That came with increases in most of the company’s business segments. Racing net revenue was up about 6.6 percent, to $175.7 million, because of the boost from the Kentucky Derby. Casino revenue was up about 4.6 percent, to $88.3 million, because of a strong quarter in a few of the company’s properties.

But BIg Fish Games, the Seattle-based mobile and online video game company owned by CDI, saw a 10 percent decline in its overall net revenue, to $112.6 million.

The company said it anticipated the fall and attributed it to revenue declines for both its premium and casual free-to-play games. Social casino gaming purchases were actually up for the quarter.

Carstanjen said the company remains confident in its purchase of Big Fish Gamesand its offerings and believes it will generate a strong return on investment over time.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial and residential real estate, government and sports business.


Here's how much parking Churchill Downs is adding at the racetrack

Updated

Churchill Downs Racetrack is moving ahead with a plan to add new parking on land it recently acquired to the west of the track.

The property was bought as part of a recent round of land acquisition that cost $13 million or more for vacant lots, houses and commercial lots surrounding the facility, some of which have been razed.

Churchill Downs Racetrack general manager Ryan Jordan told me Tuesday morning that the plan calls for 100 more parking spaces at the racetrack, which has more than 4,000 existing spaces in and around the project area. Churchill Downs filed applications for the addition with Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services on Monday.

The new parking area will have numerous landscape islands outfitted with rainwater boxes to curb stormwater runoff and about 900 new trees to beautify the space. A perimeter fence will serve as a buffer zone between the roadway and the parking lot. Interior walking paths will be added to direct pedestrian flow from the parking lot to the racetrack’s entrances, Jordan said.

The fence will be designed to secure the parking area, particularly during off-hours and when racing is not active, according to the plans.

Churchill Downs asked the city earlier this month to close a grid of alleys and small streets between Churchill Downs properties on the west side of the track to accommodate the new parking. Those streets and alleys are bordered by Central Avenue to the north and Bohannon Avenue to the west, and the request is still pending, Jordan said.

Receiving authorization from the city to close those streets and alleys and gaining approval for the development plan will shape the construction timeline, though Churchill Downs wants to get started by October or November of this year and have some of the work done in time for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The rest of the work should be completed in time for the track’s 2018 Fall Meet and the Breeders’ Cup in November 2018, Jordan said.

Costs are being worked out as the racetrack finalizes some of the design elements.

For instance, a vehicle maneuvering area and a promenade have been proposed to move visitors between the parking area to track entrances. The full scope of the promenade is under development, but Jordan said it will be equipped with a sidewalk wrapping between Gate 1 and Gate 10 to the parking area, providing a safe walking path to the track’s main entrances.

This is the latest in a series of new capital projects for the racetrack. The track is in the midst of a $37 million, three-story addition that will add 1,800 seats in luxury suites, dining areas and a third-floor grandstand. That development will be finished in time for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

And Churchill Downs announced a plan last week to allocate $60 million for construction of a historical race wagering facility in Louisville at its former Trackside training and simulcast wagering facility on Poplar Level Road. That facility could open next year.

The 85,000-square-foot facility will offer about 600 historical racing machines, also known as instant racing, that model games off previously run horse races. It also will have dining and bar venues.

Churchill Downs Racetrack is owned by Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. (Nasdaq:CHDN), which owns numerous racetracks and casinos across the U.S.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial and residential real estate, government and sports business.


Churchill Downs to invest $60 million in electronic gambling facility

By BORIS LADWIG |

A rendering of Churchill Downs’ planned $60 million electronic gambling facility. Courtesy of Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs Inc. plans to spend $60 million to create an 85,000-square-foot electronic gambling facility east of the airport.

CDI said the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday afternoon had given conditional approval to the company’s request to offer “exotic wagering on historical racing.”

CDI said the state-of-the-art structure, at 4520 Poplar Level Road, the location of the company’s former Trackside training center, will be staffed by 200 new full- and part-time employees in areas ranging from food service to information technology and administration. Wage information was not immediately available. Job fairs will be held at Trackside.

CDI said the structure would include two quick-service restaurants, a bar, large TVs and 600 so-called historic racing machines. Historic racing refers to electronic betting on replays of horse races. Some of the betting machines resemble slot machines.

The Louisville-based company said in a press release that the project also would create 250 construction jobs.

Kevin Flanery

“This is a great opportunity for us to revitalize another area of our city while strengthening the commonwealth’s equine industry through larger purses and greater incentives for Kentucky breeders and owners,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in the release. “Stronger horse racing means a stronger Kentucky.”

The company said in a press release that it hoped to begin construction this year and open the venue by summer of next year.

Churchill Downs had said in March that its mobile betting subsidiary, TwinSpires, had relocated its headquarters to Louisville from Southern California, bringing more than 70 technology-focused jobs to Kentucky.


Churchill Downs to spend $60M on new gaming facility in Louisville

Updated

Churchill Downs Inc. is investing about $60 million to build a historical race wagering facility in Louisville at its former Trackside training and simulcast wagering facility on Poplar Level Road.

The 85,000-square-foot facility will offer historical racing machines, also known as instant racing, that model games off previously run horse races. The announcement came after Churchill Downs (NASDAQ: CHDN) received conditional approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to establish historical race wagering during a meeting in Frankfort today.

“A state-of-the-art historic racing facility will allow us to deliver an exciting and compelling pari-mutuel product for our customers in Louisville,” Churchill Downs Racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in a news release. “This is a great opportunity for us to revitalize another area of our city while strengthening the commonwealth’s equine industry through larger purses and greater incentives for Kentucky breeders and owners. Stronger horse racing means a stronger Kentucky.”

In a phone interview following the announcement, Flanery told me Churchill Downs has been considering this option since the commission authorized historical race wagering several years ago, but it wanted to ensure it is competitive and can produce the type of facility the community will take pride in.

The facility will feature 600 historical racing machines, which are similar to slot machines, and a player’s club reward center. The reward center will offer perks for members, such as exclusive parking. And the complex will sport walk-up food venues with quick-service menus and a bar that will seat as many as 50 people alongside large televisions.

Construction of the facility will start later this year, and it is expected to open by the summer of 2018.

The project will create 450 jobs, including 250 temporary construction jobs. The other 200 full- and part-time employees will operate and manage the facility.

Churchill Downs said it will hire hourly and salaried employees in a number of designated areas, such as operations, marketing, finance, food and beverage, maintenance, information technology, human resources, security and administration. To find employees, job fairs will be held at the Trackside site and at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

Historical race wagering’s legality has been questioned at the state level for years, and a long-running court case challenging it remains pending in Franklin Circuit Court. Flanery said Churchill Downs’ general counsel has thoroughly reviewed the case and feels comfortable in moving forward on the facility.

Opponents have argued historical race wagering does not follow state regulations on gaming, but the option already has been adopted at Keenelandand The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park Racecourse in Henderson, according to this report by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Turfway Park in Florence also has been approved for the option, the report said.

Flanery said final approval for individual machines will be required from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and the racetrack will work hand-in-hand with the commission on floor layout and facility design.

This announcement comes in the midst of a very busy time for Churchill Downs. The company recently relocated its advance deposit wagering service, TwinSpires, from Mountain View, Calif., to the company’s corporate headquarters at 600 N. Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville.

The move cost about $2.2 million for the office expansion, and it is expected to create about 100 high-paying jobs.

Likewise, a hum of activity is circulating at and around Churchill Downs Racetrack itself. The racetrack has started a $37 million three-story addition that will add 1,800 seats in luxury suites, dining areas and a third-floor grandstand. That development will be finished in time for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs also has spent more than $13 million scooping up properties around the track, some of which will be used to expand parking.


Announcing: 2017 Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville

Updated

Here are this year’s honorees for Business First’s annual Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville awards — a program recognizing Louisville-area employers who are creating positive work environments for their employees.

Our Best Places to Work program is administered by Omaha, Neb.-based Quantum Workplace, which surveys employees about workplace policies, office conditions, management styles and more.

Twenty five companies and nonprofits that applied for the program scored high enough to be included in our group of honorees this year. You can see them in the slideshow above.

These organizations will be recognized at an awards breakfast on Thursday, Aug. 3, at The Olmsted. Click here to register for the event.

We’ll also tell you why these places are among the Best Places to Work in the Aug. 4 weekly edition of Louisville Business First.

Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Brent Schanding manages the special publications and labeled content.


Churchill Downs has a plan to add more parking

Jun 7, 2017, 7:03am EDT

Churchill Downs Racetrack wants Louisville Metro Government to close several streets and alleys west of the track so it can expand its parking capacity.

WDRB.com reports that in an application filed with Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services, Churchill said the closures would allow for “substantial parking and landscaping enhancements” on the west side of the track.

WDRB reported last month that an affiliate of Churchill Downs Inc. (Nasdaq: CHDN) had bought nearly three dozen vacant lots, houses and commercial properties on three sides of the Central Avenue track, spending more than $13 million.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher told WDRB that track officials are trying to decide the best use for the property.

Churchill CEO Bill Carstanjen told WDRB last month that company officials hope the newly acquired property would “have a purpose beyond just parking,” but he declined to elaborate.