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With just over two months left before developer Todd Blue can legally destroy the strip of buildings at First and Main streets (known as Whiskey Row), Louisville Metro Government is seeking a buyer for the structures. (For more on Whiskey Row, click here)

Blue owns the strip, but has said he is willing to sell them to someone who wants to save either the facades or the entire buildings, as many preservationists have called for Blue to do.

The Courier-Journal reports that the city is now seeking buyers who are willing to take five of the seven buildings off Blue’s hands.

Alan Delisle, the corporation’s executive director, and Chris Poynter, Fischer’s spokesman, both said Thursday that the other two Iron Quarter buildings at 105 and 107 W. Main, are probably too dilapidated to attract a buyer and are not part of the sales effort. But they say the five structures that may be sold are worth salvaging in their entirety.

“If they are not sold within 90 days, he (Blue) can tear them down,” Poynter said. But he said “there are prospects” for acquiring the five buildings, although he declined to elaborate.

Delisle also wouldn’t identify prospective purchasers and called it “a big challenge” to find a buyer, “but we are making the strongest possible effort to get this done.”

Speculation that a Trader Joe’s grocery store was coming to Louisville picked up again last week. As always, the company would not confirm anything. That’s still the case, but the Insider Louisville has found a leak in the story.

Rosemary Nunn, manager of the Craftsman Collection furniture store in Shelbyville Road Plaza, said she and her staff were notified by Hagan Properties executives their expiring lease will not be renewed because Trader Joe’s is taking the space on the northeast side of the center.

Trader Joe’s also will displace Kiddie Castle and Massage Envy, which flank the Craftsman Collection store.

“We were told to be out by February 28,” Nunn told Insider Louisville. “But, (Hagan Properties) has given us an extension till mid-March.”

Here’s the deal.

According to Nunn, Trader Joe’s wanted the former Wild Oats location about 200 yards south, and deeper into the center, a space vacated after Whole Foods bought Wild Oats in 2007.

Trouble is, Whole Foods still owns that lease, and they’re stipulating Hagan Properties can’t lease to a competitor.

Trader Joe’s executives then tried to lease the vacant Circuit City space on the west side of Shelbyville Road Plaza, Nunn said.

But that deal fell through because the Circuit City space is too close to the existing World Market, which has an adjoining package-liquor sales with a separate entrance, an arrangement that complies with Kentucky’s arcane alcoholic beverage sales laws.

Trader Joe’s is huge into wines, with good California wines on the top end, and Charles Shaw “Two-Buck Chuck” brand on the bottom.

So, Trader Joe’s settled for its third choice on the northeast side – a huge coup for Hagan Properties, which has had its own problems, including the fact that the firm spent $7 million to reconfigure the center in early 2008, the same year mega-tenants such as Circuit City and Linen N’Things liquidated, leaving Shelbyville Road Plaza more than 50-percent vacant.

 

After false starts and abandoned deals, the old Colgate Plant in Clarksville, Indiana has been sold. Specifically, it’s been sold the to the Boston Development Group. We reported last month that Clarksville officials were anticipating BDG to purchase the property.

After confirming he’s been told the nearly 60-acre complex has been sold to a group led by Jayesh Sheth, a geriatric specialist who lives in New Albany, town Council Member Bob Popp said, “I hope their expectations from the town aren’t too high.”

[edit]

“The sale is the easy part,” Popp said, explaining that estimates of a $4.5 million purchase price may sound like a great deal of money, but redevelopment of the nearly-60 acre site, with nearly 1 million square feet of buildings, some of them very old, may take hundreds of millions of dollars over many years.

Katherine Johnson, chief operating office of Midwest Center for Foreign Investment, in which Sheth is a partner, confirmed the Colgate property has been purchased by Boston Development Group LLC, of which Sheth is a managing partner. She said the Midwest Center obtained financing for the project.

For weeks, we’ve known that someone was trying to buy the old Colgate Plant in Clarksville.

An unidentified bidder tentatively agreed to pay $4.5 million for the property in an auction in the fall, but the deal fell through in late December. It was a mysterious case. The buyer was trying to line up international investors for a redevelopment project, with a likely eye toward starting work on the Clark’s Landing project, which would redevelop much of Clarksville’s riverfront.

The speculation over who wanted the property ended, though, when the possible buyer backed out. That buyer was never identified, but records obtained by WFPL indicate that the Boston Development Group (though possible not this BDG) was likely behind the failed purchase.

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No one can say who won the auction for the old Colgate plant in Clarksville, Indiana, but city redevelopment director Rick Dickman says it’s not the Cordish Companies. The controversial Baltimore-based company developed 4th Street Live in Louisville, and is slated to expand 4SL into Center City.

The Mid City Mall in the Highlands will be the subject of the inaugural event in the Brief Urban Design Area Studies series from Broken Sidewalk/Urban Design Studio. The series is meant to get people thinking about how urban spaces could be redeveloped and put to better use. Here are more details:

The event takes place in two stages.  First, from 9:30AM through 11AM, Broken Sidewalk and the Urban Design Studio will lead a guided tour of the Mid City Mall area to scope out the current conditions of one of Louisville’s most high-profile properties.  We’ll be taking a look at the history of the site, the growth of Bardstown Road, and how the site interacts with the surrounding neighborhood.  Meet at Heine Bros. Coffee across the street from the Mid City Mall at 1295 Bardstown Road.

Next, from Noon until 4:30PM, the really important stuff gets started – imagining the potential of the Mid City Mall area.  We’ll be heading Downtown to the Urban Design Studio at 507 South Third Streetwhere we can check out giant maps of the area and start sketching our ideas.  We’ll provide the supplies, pens, markers, trace paper, and more.  We’ll have some light snacks to keep the creative juices flowing as well.

When we have created the perfect reimagination of the Mid City Mall site, the Urban Design Studio and Broken Sidewalk will compile the results and publish a report on the UDS and Broken Sidewalk web sites.

Plans to build a CVS pharmacy in Louisville’s Douglass Loop have reportedly been scrapped. The drug store would have replaced a number of businesses and buildings, including the Twig and Leaf diner. Louisville.com reports that the developers behind the CVS have scrapped their plans, and the whole ordeal has inspired a campaign to have the Twig and Leaf declared a landmark.

“The Landmarks Commission did receive a petition to designate the Twig and Leaf a historic landmark,” says Dave Marchal, urban design administrator for the City of Louisville. “Now we have to write a report, take it to the Public Works Commission and have a hearing, and they may designate it.” Approval may come as early as this October.

Despite the area outcry (including a 6,000-member Facebook group that called upon its members to call the developers to voice their opposition),public meeting held on the subject—complete with artist’s renderings of the proposed CVS—the development is not moving forward.

“Probably not on that particular location,” says Greg Potts of The Zaremba Group. We’ve pretty much dropped all our interest in it.”

Marchal says, “[Developers] may shop the idea around the neighborhood and try to build support, but that’s not happening.”

Forbes Magazine has released a map that charts migration between counties in 2008. The map has a nice interactive element that lets you choose a county and see how many people moved to and from that county, and where they went to or came from. It also gives the average income for the immigrants and emigrants.

Click for details

Click for details

For a comparison, I looked at migration between Jefferson County, Kentucky and Cook County, Illinois. 274 moved to Louisville from Cook County, but 213 Louisvillians left for the Chicago-area. (Maybe they were drawn to Schaumburg) As an interesting aside, consider this: the people moving to Louisville from Cook County drew salaries just below $30,000, but those leaving Louisville drew salaries about $41,000. That’s a slight raise according to CNN’s cost of living calculator.

In 2008, Louisville also gained a net 26 residents from St. Louis City (not part of St. Louis County). One of those 26 was me.

Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness has released the “State of Food” report for the city (PDF link).

The report finds large food deserts in west Louisville and east downtown. These are areas where fresh food is hard to come by. Further limiting access is the fact that many households in these areas do not have vehicles, making a trip to one of the few grocery stores more difficult.

There is access to food in these areas, but the report says it’s not the right type of food:

Although West Louisville and East Downtown lack supermarkets, they have a tremendous amount of access to fast food. The report indicates that along Broadway, which runs from East Downtown to West Louisville, there are a total of 24 fast food restaurants in a 2.8 mile stretch, the highest concentration in the state of Kentucky (Figure 2).21 Interestingly, this report even finds that first tier national supermarket chains sell lower quality goods in low-income neighborhoods.22 In addition to being underserved by supermarkets and grocery stores, West Louisville and East Downtown residents also have significantly less access to a vehicle than residents of other parts of the city. In Jefferson County as a whole, only 13% of households lack vehicle access. However, 28% of West Louisville households do not have access to a vehicle and a striking 51% of households in East Downtown lack vehicle access.

The above paragraph accompanies a map of fast food outlets on Broadway:

The report further discusses local food initiatives and programs designed to stock fresh food in convenience stores. What are your thoughts on alleviating food deserts?

To touch on a previous topic: neighborhoods in the deserts–including downtown–do not follow the federal government’s definition of livability, because it is not possible to access grocery stores without a motor vehicle.

The controversial Iron Quarter project has been updated. Developer Todd Blue detailed his new plans for the land and buildings at First and Main Street in the Courier-Journal.

Blue’s attorneys recently told WFPL that Blue had always planned to preserve the facades of the original buildings (mock-up here), and the updated project highlights that intent. But saving the facades will not necessarily please preservationists.

From the C-J.

“Many preservationists believe that saving just the facades is not really preservation,” said Bob Griffith, president of Preservation Louisville Inc.

Blue said keeping the buildings intact isn’t feasible — he estimates it would cost at least $5million to preserve them, and he challenged any preservationists who want to save the buildings to buy them from him.

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