Archive for the Development Category

Don’t Forget! CycLOUvia Happens This Sunday, Oct. 14th

Posted in Development, Environment, Happenings, Louisville News, Transportation with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by othersideoflife

Despite the seemingly goofy name*, CycLOUvia is happening on Bardstown Road this Sunday, October 14th, and we’re glad for it! Here’s the deal: Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue will be CLOSED to all automobile traffic between Douglass Boulevard and Broadway, open only to pedestrians and bicyclists (and other non-motorized folks) from 1:30 to 6:30 PM. Here’s a map of the closed area, with automobile access points: http://cyclouvia.org/map.

Even TARC buses are being detoured, so you know it’s serious. Serious fun! As someone who works part-time in two businesses on Bardstown Road (including a business that was recently damaged by a drunk driver — thankfully no one was hurt), I can’t think of anything better than to have a nice, chill day without aggressively-speeding or cluelessly-phone-talking car drivers on what is generally a pretty badly congested, lacklusterly policed road.

*the term comes from cyclovia, a successful 30-year long program to reduce automobile traffic in Bogota, Colombia.

Ali Home For Sale

Posted in Development, Economics, Louisville History, Louisville News, Real Estate, Sports with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by othersideoflife


(Picture of Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home from the Courier-Journal.)

The Courier-Journal is reporting that Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home in West Louisville is now for sale:

Two “for sale” signs have popped up in the front yard of the small white house on Grand Avenue where boxing great Muhammad Ali — known in those days as Cassius Clay — grew in western Louisville.

The home, which was recognized as Ali’s boyhood home with a historical marker in May, is described by the plaque as the place “where young Clay’s values were instilled.”

The sale price of the house was not listed on the for sale signs and a message left at the number listed was not returned. The Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration values the property at $23,260.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Sunday that it is too early to know what role the city might have as the house is sold, but he plans to be involved in the process in some way. He even hinted at the possibility that the home could be transformed into more of a tourist attraction.

“I would hope that we would find some reasonable way to make (the house) a part of our history here where people can visit more formally than they do right now,” he said. “The city would be interested in making sure that it falls into the right hands and there’s a partnership there in some way.”

Sounds like a bargain, that despite the home’s historical significance, it needs some work. Here’s hoping that, if it ends up being bought by a private party, the proper renovations will be carried out and, at some point, it could help drive tourism to an otherwise-overlooked part of the city.

UPDATE, 8/28/2012: The Courier-Journal has published an updated story on the Ali Home, with some interesting new details. First, apparently Ali’s family isn’t interested in buying the home:

The 1920 one-story at 3302 Grand Ave. in western Louisville, appraised at $23,260, is in such bad condition that “we probably would not be interested in buying it,” said Lonnie Ali, the wife of the three-time heavyweight boxing champion.

“It would be nice if someone were interested,” she said in an interview Tuesday, adding that she feared that any hint of the family being a potential buyer would drive up the price. “It is going to be a very important piece of real estate for Louisville and as a tourist attraction.”

According to the Ali Center, an anonymous donor is interested, but with no more information to divulge.  Additionally, check out the last sale price of the house, from 1998:

The house, which was last sold in 1998 for $2,500, is owned by a Southern Indiana couple, Steve and Kassandra Stephenson, according the Jefferson County PVA website. Their asking price couldn’t be determined.

New Northern Kentucky Distillery In the Works

Posted in Development, Drink, Economics, Kentucky News with tags , , on August 12, 2012 by othersideoflife

(This post reposted from our sister blog, Tasting Notes.)
(photo of Nth Degree Distilling CEO Mollie Lewis from the Courier-Journal.)

The Courier-Journal is reporting that a new distillery based in Newport, Kentucky will be added to the Bourbon Trail next year when construction is complete:

A bourbon micro-distillery in the works in Newport will become the seventh stop along the state’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail — and the only one in Northern Kentucky.

CEO Mollie Lewis says she hopes that The Nth Degree Distilling attracts about 700 visitors a week for tours when it opens next year. A groundbreaking was held last month.

Lewis told The Kentucky Enquirer that the “N” has more than one meaning — it stands for Northern Kentucky, Newport and “the Nth degree, which means all-out.”

She said the craft distillery will be different from most other bourbon makers in Kentucky in that it will reflect a forward-looking enterprise in an urban market.

Larry Ebersold, a former distiller at Pernod Ricard USA in Lawrenceburg, will be the master distiller.

Nth Degree Distilling CEO Mollie Lewis is an old friend, so it’s exciting to hear about her new endeavor. You can read more about her in this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Mammoth Profiled By a Dinosaur

Posted in Art, Development, Economics, Happenings, Louisville News, Media, Music, Real Estate with tags , , on August 6, 2012 by othersideoflife


(photo of Hallie Jones and Aron Conaway from the Courier-Journal.)

Okay, so the snarky headline was too good to pass up. In yesterday’s Courier-Journal, there was an excellent, and expansive, profile of The Mammoth, the behemoth multi-use arts space in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood, run by Aron Conaway and Hallie Jones:

Now, with this three-story, 90,000-square-foot building — where Conaway and Jones live on the first floor — and another attached building with 36,000 square feet, the couple are poised to see their dream become a reality.

They’re looking to convert this space, which they now call The Mammoth, into art studios and artists’ residences, an art installation space and art gallery, an independent media center, band practice spaces, a live music venue, film-viewing space and even community gardens and other green spaces.

The idea is to have enough space for artists to have the privacy to work on their own, but also shared space to work together. It includes outfitting the space with equipment for making art.

The plan includes artists pooling their resources and generating income for the endeavor though sideline businesses and eventually renting space to commercial businesses. The couple envisions a nonprofit entity overseeing the shared art-making spaces.

While we haven’t yet been to The Mammoth, we’re excited about it. Read more here.

Dolls Market Sale Pending — And We’re Back

Posted in Development, Economics, Louisville News, Real Estate with tags , , on July 24, 2012 by stateofthecommonwealth


(Photo of the former Dolls Market swiped from the Courier-Journal.)

According to today’s Courier-Journal, the former Dolls Market on Brownsboro Road will soon have a new owner:

An out-of-town developer has a contract to buy the former Doll’s Market building and parking lot on Brownsboro Road for a retail use, and a closing is expected by the end of the year, real estate agent Paul Grisanti said.

The building could be one store or perhaps three smaller ones, but Grisanti said he could not disclose details because of a confidentiality agreement. Grisanti is selling the property for the owners, the Charles F. Bauer family.

The developer interested in the Doll’s building has 53 “units” in 13 states, and this would be the first store in Kentucky, Grisanti said. “It’s something people in that area will most likely appreciate,” he said.

We figured we’d google “53 stores 13 states retail” to see if there we could find any hints, but the only relevant result was the Wikipedia entry for American Signature, the parent company of Value City. Not that exciting, we know. Perhaps someone out there has a tip they can share with us? Anyway, it will be good for that stretch of Brownsboro Road to have more robust retail again. Now if only they can get a good restaurant back in the old Azalea space…

In other not-really-news news, we’re restarting State of the Commonwealth on a most-likely sporadic basis, so we hope you enjoy it. Work schedules now allow for some time to dedicate to SotC, which we haven’t updated since 2008. We’ve unfortunately missed out on a lot of changes, some positive and some otherwise, around Louisville and Kentucky in the past three years, and we regret that. But hopefully we can jump back into the swing of things! Thanks for reading.

WHAS 11: Metro Parks Spent $600k Last Year on New Mowers

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Otter Creek Park, Politics on February 25, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

WHAS 11 aired a whopper of a story last night, that Louisville Metro Parks spent over $600,000 on new mowers last year, just before spending cuts were announced by Mayor Abramson in December. Here’s the full story (you can watch video of the story by following the link above to WHAS 11):

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) – WHAS11 News has learned that as Louisville Mayor Abramson was closing Otter Creek Park to save a half million dollars, the Metro Parks Department was spending more than that on new lawn mowers.

It’s your tax dollars, and critics are saying its misplaced priorities.

But the parks department says the mowers are a great deal for taxpayers for the future.

The parks department says the fancy new lawn mowers are more efficient and were purchased just before the price went way up.

But spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawn mowers in tough budget times has got some folks flabbergasted:

You’ll be seeing these all-in-one Toro lawn mowers on Louisville’s public golf courses this summer. The metro parks department bought eight of these new mowers last fall to replace the old tractor and pull behind blades currently being used.

Those eight faster, easier mowers were purchased last October. The total cost was $507,000. The next month, in November, metro parks purchased nine of these tractor pulled blade mowers which are designed to bushhog and cut high grass. Total cost on those was $96,000. More than $600,000 spent on new mowers just as Mayor Abramson was announcing a huge budget shortfall and millions in spending cuts.

Nowhere in the parks department’s capital budget is there any mention of cash for new mowers. Storch says that’s because the money is coming out of metro government’s depreciation account. Councilman Downard still wonders how the mower purchases will sit with city workers who face four mandatory furlough days without pay.

And yes, it is true, that $600,000 price tag on the new mowers is about $100,000 more than metro government expects to save by closing Otter Creek Park. Downard says that’s one less park to mow with more lawnmowers.

One minor note about this story: Louisville Metro only predicted to save on the order of $180,000 for this fiscal year by closing Otter Creek Park, so the $500,000 figure cited in the story is a bit misleading. Louisville may save $500,000 in the next fiscal year if OCP remains closed, but closing OCP also ended a revenue stream, as well the potential for more. Either way, spending $600,000 during a recession on lawnmowers that, no matter how nice they are, will depreciate is not what we’d call fiscal responsibility.

LEO‘s Interview with the Mayor and Otter Creek Park

Posted in Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics on January 15, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Photo of Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson by Frankie Steele for LEO Weekly.)

From our sister blog, Save Otter Creek Park – The Friends of Otter Creek Park Blog:

If you haven’t seen it by now, we wanted to make you aware that LEO Weekly‘s issue this week includes their extensive annual interview with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who has quite a bit to say about both the controversy surrounding the closing of Otter Creek Park, and our group, the Friends of Otter Creek Park. Here’s the relevant parts of the interview (you can read the entire interview here):

LEO: Another group that is getting louder by the day—

JA [Jerry Abramson]: Otter Creek.

LEO:Yes, the Friends of Otter Creek.

JA: It is very simple to explain to you why we moved in that direction. For many years, I’ve had this discussion with six governors — I’ve been mayor a long time — we have thought that this magnificent park, this very, very unique jewel of a wilderness setting and just gorgeous landscape, needed to be a state park. Because we don’t do a very good job running it, because we know how to run municipal parks — we can handle Cherokee Park, we know how to do Iroquois Park, we can handle Shawnee Park, we know how to handle Hays Kennedy Park or Long Run Park, etc. — but we don’t do very well in terms of a park that has cabins and hookups for RVs, for electricity and water.

So we have said we lose money every year; we used to lose $500,000 a year. We’ve tried to get governors to take it over. There was always a reason not to. I tried to work with the federal government, to have Fort Knox take it over; there was always a reason not to. We talked with the Meade County judge — it’s in Meade County — several judges ago, and asked him if we could serve wine. Maybe if we could serve wine and champagne, there might be an opportunity to host more events, which would help cover some of the expenses to defray the cost — because if you’re spending $500,000 out there, you could’ve spent the $500,000 at … parks within Louisville-Jefferson County. We tried to get the liquor license; the county judge made a commitment they would vote it wet, and then at the fiscal court meeting, he voted no.

… At this point in time, when you’re looking for a half a million dollars, and you’re also looking for money that you can save for these six months that will roll forward because this next budget’s going to be even tougher, we said we’re going to close it, and see if that would generate interest. [emphasis ours]

And you know what? The state parks are going out there, the state Fish & Wildlife [department is] going out there, I met with the garrison commander of Fort Knox — they’ve been out there twice. So all of a sudden, there’s a lot of energy around in terms of what can we do to ensure that the park is open as soon as possible? The county judge in Meade County is interested, he’s said, in making it an industrial park, or a residential area. Well, we’re not going to allow it to be developed into an industrial facility. We want it to be what it is: a beautiful wildlife preserve, an opportunity for folks to commune with nature. We’ve also got nonprofits that have contacted us: the Y[MCA] has a facility out there, [Boy] Scouts, saying what role can we play?

Suffice to say, we’re working on crafting a response to Mayor Abramson’s comments, to be published in LEO as soon as possible. We’re also very interested in meeting with him to discuss Otter Creek Park, anytime. However, there’s some elements of this interview that, based on just our initial impressions from reading it, we have to respond to.

According to Mayor Abramson above, closing Otter Creek Park was actually a ploy to save it! Somehow, we’re not buying this argument. Louisville has a number of private/public partnerships and quasi-governmental groups dedicated to serving citizens. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Olmstead Parks Conservancy, the Downtown Development Corporation, Greater Louisville Inc., Waterfront Development Corp., etc. If Otter Creek Park has been such a drag on the city’s budget year after year, why wasn’t any initiative taken to fix the problem before closing the Park? The savings of closing OCP reportedly only comes to $180,000 per year — why was there no effort to try to find that money from sources other than Louisville Metro’s budget?

Which goes on to the second problem of finding a group — whether governmental or otherwise — to run the Park now: how does closing the Park complicate the problems it already has? What hidden costs might be added as a result of the closing? Certainly while closing Otter Creek Park to visitors has kick-started our group’s activism on behalf of the Park, it has also hurt interest in OCP by both local residents and visitors from elsewhere. Sure, it’s winter, and that’s the slowest season for outdoor recreation, but closing the Park entirely has to have had a “chilling effect” (pardon the pun). Additionally, since the Park isn’t being maintained, what start-up costs will a potential buyer/operator have to contend with? Wouldn’t the Park be more attractive if it was still open and being maintained?

The Mayor goes on to discuss Friends of Otter Creek Park within the context of “citizen enragement”:

LEO: I was at a community meeting [last] week in the southwestern part of the city. It’s been my experience at some of these meetings, including some where you’ve been there, that they start off on issues — and this one was about Otter Creek Park — and they get derailed into criticism of you, conspiracy theories about you and your administration. It seems to me this is the only part of the city where this happens with such regularity and drama.

JA: Citizen engagement is great. The fact that there are individuals pulling together to set up a Friends of Otter Creek, to look at options, to work with me ultimately on how we can keep it open. I think citizen engagement is great.

What troubles me are those that are involved in citizen enragement, and I’m afraid that in the area you’re referencing, there are two or three individuals who take much more pride in involving themselves in citizen enragement rather than citizen engagement.

… Citizen enragement, with sometimes not sharing the facts, framing the issues in a way that enrage rather than involve — unfortunately there have been a couple of folks out there in that area that have done that more than once, on more than one issue. And so it is what it is: We work with the folks who want to work with us.

I can’t speak for anyone else involved in Friends of Otter Creek Park in terms of their feelings towards Mayor Abramson. Given that our group consists of a large, diverse group of individuals from all over the surrounding region — including people who don’t live in Louisville Metro — it’s fair to say that there is probably not one, monolithic point of view given Louisville’s Mayor.

Speaking for the group, however, I will say that Friends of Otter Creek Park is ready to work with Mayor Abramson or any other government official, organization, charity, or group willing and interested in reopening Otter Creek Park. Period.

That said, our meetings are open to the public, and we value what everyone in the community has to say — otherwise we wouldn’t bother with public comment periods at our meetings. As far as I’m concerned, Friends of Otter Creek Park is about finding a solution to the problem through democratic and transparent means. The citizens of Louisville Metro and Jefferson County don’t deserve any less than that.