Archive for June, 2008

Selling Out Park Hill?

Posted in Development, Economics, Labor, Louisville News, Politics on June 30, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Neighborhood Map

(neighborhood map from the Courier-Journal)

Even though it’s a few days old, we haven’t seen much discussion on the internets around Louisville’s plan to “revitalize” a large portion of the Algonquin, California and Park Hill neighborhoods. The Courier-Journal published this story about the plan last Wednesday — City plans to bring ‘real change’ to poor areas:

Michael Brooks is rooted in the California neighborhood. He’s the third generation to live in the West Oak Street house his family has owned since before World War II.

Brooks remembers when the area thrived with doctors and lawyers. Now it’s among the poorest neighborhoods in Louisville — in need of more retail and better streets, he said.

“There are a lot of dead-end streets in this area. A lot of dead-end streets,” Brooks said. “These streets kind of isolate the neighborhood residents from the outside world.”

City consultants are suggesting major changes to the area, including the confusing network of streets in California and other neighborhoods in the Park Hill industrial corridor.

The ideas will be weighed as part of a master plan to guide development. City officials launched the plan’s nine-month public-involvement period during a meeting last night.

Ideas suggested for consideration include:

Adding an $80 million Interstate 65 exit at Hill Street to increase truck access into the area.

Converting portions of Kentucky and Breckenridge streets to two-way traffic between roughly Eighth Street and I-65 at a cost of up to $3 million.

Opening Kentucky Street to through traffic west of 15th Street at a cost of $5,000.

Spending up to $2 million to build a rail crossing on Cardinal Boulevard west of Fourth Street to improve access to future development at the former American Standard plant.

The plan’s goal will be to attract businesses, create green spaces and connect neighborhoods.

Officials and consultants acknowledge that the ambitious effort comes as the city and state face austere budgets. Yet they say long-term planning efforts laid the groundwork for projects such as Waterfront Park, the former home of industrial sites along the Ohio River.

Bruce Traughber, the city’s economic development director, said private businesses will have a role in the master plan.

“We want to be in a position to have something that will happen immediately on the ground, led by the private sector,” Traughber told about 50 people at the meeting at the Sud-Chemie chemical company on West Hill Street. “That’s what we’re looking for, and that’s our hope out of this project. We want to be able to see real change.”

Bruce Blue, president and chief executive of Freedom Metals, a scrap-metal company with two locations in the area, said funding might be difficult for projects in Park Hill.

But, he said, “At some point you’ve got to spend some money in this area. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I guess we’re the squeaky wheel now.”

Blue and Brooks, the California neighborhood resident, both are members of an advisory committee appointed by Mayor Jerry Abramson.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, Abramson noted studies on the Park Hill corridor and said, “It’s now time to start talking about implementation.

“There are a lot of people that have been dreaming about taking this area and doing something with it for a long, long time, but I think this is probably the most aggressive effort we’ve ever had.”

The target area, known as the Park Hill corridor, roughly includes Broadway to the north and Algonquin Parkway and Winkler Avenue to the south, parts of Old Louisville and the University of Louisville to the east and 22nd Street to the west.

The area is largely black, with higher poverty levels and lower household incomes than Louisville as a whole, according to U.S. Census data.

It includes parts of the California, Algonquin and Park Hill neighborhoods.

Consultants have finished two studies they say will influence the master plan, which will focus on about 1,400 acres of the corridor’s industrial areas.

Private businesses or government agencies are paying for most of the studies.

The city is paying $100,000 in matching costs for a real-estate analysis.

The $200,000 analysis by Economics Research Associates examined possible land uses. It found that the Park Hill area could support new office and industrial space and urged officials to focus on attracting businesses such as publishing and printing, metal manufacturing and processed foods.

A $62,500 transportation study by the ENTRAN engineering firm calls for more than $144 million in changes to roads within the corridor.

They include, for example, an extension of 12th Street to Industry Road at Seventh Street that would improve access to the former Rhodia site nearby. The city is clearing the former chemical plant at 11th and Hill streets and marketing it to potential buyers.

So will this plan be a panacea for one of the poorest sections of Louisville? Or will it be a sop to Louisville’s developers, ie. the already-wealthy? What do you think? We’d like to know, so feel free to comment!


Your Correspondent, DJing at Hip Check TONIGHT at the Monkeywrench

Posted in Drink, Food, Happenings, Music on June 26, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Hip Check Flier

We’re going to break the third person style to bring you this special announcement:

I’m gonna be playing some records with the lovely Miss Kim Sorise at the Monkeywrench from 10 PM to 2 AM tonight! Y’all should come out! I’ll be spinning probably some funk, soul, afrobeat and dub reggae, though there might be some rock mixed in there as well — I’m gonna fill a big grab-bag full of stuff.

This is just a one-off, but I hope to spin again with her in the future — and I know she’s planning on having some occasional guest djs soon as well. Come on out, say hi, have a beer. The Monkeywrench is, of course, at the corner of Barrett and Winter.

Ferd Grisanti’s Closed Forever

Posted in Drink, Economics, Food, Labor, Louisville News, Obituary on June 26, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Ferd Grisanti's

(above photo of Ferd Grisanti’s from

Yes, we’ve been away from the computer for far too long, and we do apologize. But we’re back, at least for a little bit today, and though it’s a few days old, we thought we’d update with the news about one of our all-time favorite restaurants, Ferd Grisanti’s, closing its doors (from the Courier-Journal):

Ferd Grisanti Restaurant, a fixture on Taylorsville Road in Jeffersontown for 35 years, has closed, its owner confirmed yesterday.

“We succumbed to high gas prices and the struggling economy,” said Rodney Rupp, who bought the 170-seat restaurant from Paul and Vince Grisanti in January 2007.

The business was founded in 1973 by the Grisantis’ father, Ferd, who got into the restaurant business when he and his brother Albert opened Casa Grisanti on Liberty Street in 1959.

Most of the Ferd Grisanti patrons, who for years had come there for fine dining, had scaled back their ordering habits, Rupp said. He said patrons told him they had less disposable cash because of increases in the cost of living.

“Many were splitting half portions of alfredo and vermicelli” instead of ordering the more expensive items, he said.

Rupp, who said that his losses from the restaurant are “well over $200,000,” first noticed the downturn in business in October.

Business was down 30 percent to 40 percent in March and April over previous years, Rupp said. And May, which is historically its best month because of Kentucky Derby traffic, wasn’t any better.

Rupp closed Ferd Grisanti on June 8 because he didn’t think that the business could survive the summer.

While he owned the restaurant business, he didn’t own the building. It is owned by Joan Grisanti, widow of Ferd Grisanti, who died in 1993.

Paul Grisanti, 53, said last night that the future is uncertain for the property at 10212 Taylorsville Road.

His family is “still weighing our options,” he said, although he declined to specify what they may include.

Such a shame. When we were kids, Ferd’s was our favorite place to go (on the rare times we got to eat there), and we remember Ferd being a smiling, friendly presence in the dining room — and the food was fantastic. We were hoping to get out to J-Town for a meal at Ferd’s sometime this year (it’s kind of a long drive from our house), but alas it was not to be.

As You’ve Probably Noticed…

Posted in State of StateoftheCommonwealth on June 18, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

we’ve taken a bit of a break this week. Been really busy, and kind of sick, as well. So aside from some Terrastock coverage (hopefully), we don’t really expect to be back until next week. C’est la vie.

Music This Weekend, June 12-16

Posted in Art, Drink, Film, Happenings, Music, Music This Weekend on June 12, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Another busy June weekend is ahead of us, and lots of good shows are in Louisville and around the region.

Michael Hurley

Tonight at Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge (1004 E. Oak Street) legendary folk troubadour Michael Hurley returns to Louisville to play with local funtime weirdos Sapat. 10 PM-ish, $5.

Tonight in Lexington, Cadaver in Drag and Eyes and Arms of Smoke are playing at Buster’s. The show starts at 10 PM, it’s free, and more information is at

SSM Flier

Friday night at the 6th & Oak Art Collective (or whatever they’re calling it) local band Second Story Man celebrates ten years of existence with a show! Joining Second Story Man are Wussy (from Cincinnati) and Chris Brokaw (from Boston), former guitarist of Come and former drummer of Codeine. 9 PM, $5.

Weird Weeds Live

Saturday, also at the 6th & Oak space, Austin band the Weird Weeds play with Shedding and Softcheque. Louisville native Nick Hennies, who played drums in bands the Telephone Man and Nero, leads the group (that’s him on the left). 9 PM, $5. The Weird Weeds also will play a private house show in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. Cool!


On Sunday the Brothers Unconnected tour comes to town, featuring Alan and Rick Bishop of the Sun City Girls. A tribute to late SCG drummer Charles Gocher, Jr., this show promises to be one of the best of the year in Louisville. It all happens at the Pour Haus, located at 1481 S. Shelby Street. Doors are at 8 PM, “The Handsome Stranger” screens at 9 PM, and admission is $10.

Finally on Monday the 16th, Skull Alley, a new all-ages venue at 1017 E. Broadway near Barrett Avenue opens with a show by Lemuria, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Kepi Ghoulie and the Kodiaks. 7:30 PM, $6. Wednesday night is their official opening party with art, djs and dancing, at 7:30 PM, and is FREE! Go check it out!

What’s In the Weeklies? Week of June 11

Posted in Art, Drink, Elections, Environment, Film, Food, Louisville News, Media, Music, Politics, What's In the Weeklies? on June 11, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Welcome, once again, to another installment of What’s In the Weeklies?, where we take a look at Louisville’s two major weekly newspapers, so you don’t have to.

LEO June 11

LEO Weekly, June 11, 2008 issue:

Overall Score: 45 points

Velocity June 11

Velocity Weekly, June 11, 2008 issue:

  • Cover Story: Our House — 2008 Homes Issue: Personal Spaces 10 points (this is actually interesting, and not the typical gigantic-house-in-the-East-End look at Louisville homes)
  • Cover Art: 2 points
  • Additional News: N/A 0 points
  • Additional Features: Free for All, Green Tips for Green Thumbs, Make the Connection 10 points (two pretty good supplemental features to the Homes Issue plus an interesting art review equal a good job this week)
  • Opinion: This Week’s Winners and Losers, Stanford Blanch aside 0 points (okay, the former is the same ol’ boring conventional wisdom recap, the latter is… what now?!?)
  • Music Coverage: N/A 0 points (no additional coverage this week aside from a couple small previews — and hey guys, the Mighty Barrett Avenue Shake at the Monkey Wrench ended about a month or so ago)
  • Food/Drink Coverage: Kaelin’s in the Bar Hopper 5 points
  • Number of times the phrase “Metro Council” appears: 0

Overall Score: 27 points

Apologies for being so late with this week’s edition, we’ve had kind of a busy day. Also, maybe it’s just us, but the LEO web site seems to be loading awful slow, which makes doing What’s In the Weeklies? a bit more difficult. Oh well. That said, LEO still walloped Velocity in our arbitrary point-awarding system (or lack thereof) this week, by 45 to 27.

As always, please feel free to comment! Especially as regards stuff we don’t cover in the weeklies, such as theater and film coverage.

The River’s Open Again; Sunken Barges To Be Raised and Salvaged

Posted in Environment, Happenings, Louisville News, Ohio River, Transportation on June 10, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Ingram Barge

(above, unrelated photo of an Ingram Barge tugboat from

We love a good Ohio River story, especially one about stuff either sunk or re-surfaced in the riverbed. So while we didn’t get a chance to post about the sinking of two barges carrying iron ore near the Portland Canal last Friday (from Business First), we thought we’d follow up today with the Coast Guard’s plan to fix the mess (from the Courier-Journal):

The Coast Guard and waterfront authorities will likely sign off today on a plan to recover two barges that sank Friday on the Ohio River near the McAlpine Locks.

A news conference will be held this morning at the Spirit of Jefferson riverboat to give the public more information about how long it will take to remove the barges.

Ingram Barge spokesperson Keel Hunt said a salvage plan was developed last weekend and they were waiting for approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We will likely have to put a crane in position to lift the barges out and put them back on top of the surface,” Hunt said.

Equipment to raise the barges arrived yesterday from Pittsburgh, Hunt said. He said they will be in place to begin work soon.

It was the first of two barge accidents at Louisville.

At 3:50 a.m. yesterday, the towing vessel Helen Lay, owned by Lay Leasing Inc., lost one of 12 coal barges while heading upriver. The barge struck the wall near Joe’s Crab Shack.

Coast Guard Lt. John Adkins said the collision occurred after the operator of the vessel lost steering in the river channel, which had been narrowed because of the two iron ore barges that sank Friday.

“We don’t have any evidence linking the two incidents, but we are investigating,” Adkins said.

Ronald Elliott, chief of public affairs for the Corps of Engineers, said traffic was halted about 4:30 a.m. yesterday and reopened about 10:30 a.m.

“It’s just unfortunate that these incidents happened, due most likely to high water,” Elliott said.

We’re not sure we’ll get a chance to update this post after the very-important news conference mentioned in the article, so if you’re on the Ohio this morning, keep an eye open!