Creative hub destined for Wayside buildings

Jul 16 , 2008

Terry Boyd Staff Writer
Business First of Louisville

The purchase of Wayside Christian Mission¹s properties will be a catalyst for East Market Street to coalesce into a destination for Louisville¹s emerging creative class ‹ a hub for the arts, cuisine, locally produced food, the green building movement, commerce and retail. That¹s the quickly evolving vision of the main investors involved in recasting East Market Street¹s art galleries and restaurants district as a larger zone dubbed ³NuLu.²

Those investors, in several partnerships, include Los Angeles-based actor and Louisville native William Mapother, contractor Tim Peters and filmmaker Gill Holland and his wife, Augusta Brown Holland. With the pending purchase of the Wayside property ‹ 10 buildings total from 800 E. Market through 820 E. Market ‹ all of the pieces of a dramatic redevelopment puzzle are now on the table, waiting to be assembled, Holland said.

A part of downtown resurgence

In addition to the Wayside purchase, the Hollands have spent more than $2 million so far on other projects along East Market. These include renovating a building at 732 E. Market for the headquarters of The Group Entertainment LLC, owned by Gill Holland.

They also bought a parking lot at 726 E. Market, where they plan to build a three-story parking garage with first-floor retail space. In the next three years, Holland estimates, he and his partners and others will invest $25 million or more.

The end result will be a NuLu/East Market Street locus connecting the resurgent downtown business district on the west to future demand from hundreds of new housing units in various developments, including Liberty Green on the south and Legacy Lofts just to the east of NuLu.

³Even three years from now this area will be totally transformed,² Holland said.

In various partnerships, the Hollands, Peters, retired Brown-Forman Corp. executive Lois Mateus, who is Peters¹ wife, and Mapother will be involved in redeveloping several key properties.

Those include the Wayside Christian properties as well as the Disney Tire Co. property nearby at 721 E. Jefferson St. into Jefferson Public Market, a 25,000-square-foot year-round farmers¹ market.

In March, the Hollands, Peters, Mateus and Mapother, as NuLu Bridgestone LLC, bought the 0.38-acre Disney site for $230,330, according to Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration records.

Peters said he plans to buy outright and renovate one of the former Wayside Christian buildings, most likely 812 E. Market St. Then he¹ll relocate his Peters Construction Co. office to the site after selling his office building and studios at 1295 Bardstown Road in the Highlands.

That building currently houses his firm as well as a Heine Brothers¹ Coffee Inc. location and a Carmichael¹s Bookstore LLC location.

That¹s a big endorsement of NuLu¹s potential, Mateus said. ³Tim Peters, who¹s owned multiple buildings on Bardstown Road, is all of a sudden saying, ŒI¹m interested in this area.¹ To have him say, ŒI wouldn¹t mind selling 1295 Bardstown Road¹ is really intriguing.²

The next Bardstown Road corridor?

Peters said he bought the 1295 Bardstown Road property in 1980, when Bardstown Road was a collection of dilapidated wood storefronts.

³At the time, I said to myself, ŒThis is a really cool area that young people will gravitate toward,¹ ² he said. ³In my humble expectation, NuLu is going to be the new Bardstown Road of Louisville. I love this (Bardstown Road) building, but I¹m going to put it up for sale and move to NuLu.²

Peters ticked off a list of thriving businesses in the East Market cluster between Joe Ley¹s Antiques Inc. on the west and Flame Run LLC, a large glass gallery and glass-blowing operation on the east.

³They¹ve filled up the 600 and 700 blocks, and the 800 block is next. I want to be part of that,² Peters said.

Jim George and Sam Bassett, co-owners of Scout, a home accessories, gifts and jewelry store at 801 E. Market, directly across from the Wayside property, said they¹re considering expanding their furniture sales to one of the Wayside Christian buildings directly across Market Street.

Bassett said he envisions the post-Wayside NuLu as a more upscale area than the Bohemian section of Bardstown Road that runs through the Highlands. He sees walk-in business from downtown hotels ‹ already a major piece of their revenue ‹ increasing even more.

And in the four-and-a-half years since they opened their store, they¹ve seen dramatic changes for the better, especially after the nearby Clarksdale housing complex was cleared to make way for the Liberty Green residential development.

³We moved into (carrying) furniture with the expectations of lofts coming,² George said. ³I think (the NuLu Partners) have a plan in the back of their minds, and we¹re thrilled they considered us.²

Replacing Wayside Christian with retail, restaurants or galleries will connect Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery, at 828 E. Market St., to the rest of the NuLu gallery district, said Tiffany Ackerman, the company¹s office manager.

³We didn¹t mind having Wayside Christian there,² Ackerman said. ³They¹re an excellent group.²

That said, having a mission on that block breaks up the foot traffic flow of the gallery/restaurant district, she said.

³When you walk the West Main area, you have all those galleries and restaurants, and that¹s what we need ‹ to be more a cohesive gallery and shopping district.²

Years before final changes

Everyone interviewed for the article agreed that there are several stages before the full promise of integrating the Wayside Property into NuLu can be realized.First, the $5 million purchase of Wayside by NuLu Wayside LLC ‹ the Hollands and Margolis ‹ is scheduled to close Aug. 15.

Then, the partnership will be able to take possession of some ‹ but not all ‹ of the buildings and begin redevelopment.

Meanwhile, it will await an assessment of the area being prepared by Project for Public Spaces, a Manhattan-based nonprofit consulting organization that helps create public spaces that will enhance cities, Holland said.

Under that purchase agreement, the NuLu Wayside partnership can take immediate possession of three of the 10 buildings ‹ 812, 808 and 804/806, according to Holland and Nina Moseley, chief operation officer of Wayside

The purchase frees up Wayside Christian to begin looking for a different site with a new building rather than an amalgam of renovated old buildings with a new building, Moseley said.

³A new building will mean less energy, maintenance and management costs,² she said. (For more information on Wayside¹s plans, see related article at left.)

But for Holland, creating a new energy around old buildings fits precisely into his vision.

Quoting urban theorist Richard Florida, author of ³The Rise of the Creative Class,² Holland said, ³new ideas require old buildings.²

An organic, measured transformation of those old buildings, on the edge of downtown, into an destination for locals and tourists alike could make Louisville ³the next Austin,² he added.

³Of course, we are way cooler than Austin because we¹re in Kentucky.²

Details of the Wayside deal

Under the agreement to buy the Wayside Christian Mission buildings on East Market Street, the NuLu Wayside LLC partnership can take immediate possession of three of the 10 buildings ‹ 812, 808 and 804/806, according to NuLu Wayside partner Gill Holland and Nina Moseley, Wayside¹s chief operating officer.

The $5 million purchase is scheduled to close next month.

Three parcels ‹ 800 E. Market, now a family shelter; 822 E. Market, a shelter for single women; and 215 S. Shelby/812 E. Market, a six-unit apartment building ‹ will be leased by Wayside Christian for as long as two years.

Three properties that are used for storage ‹ 214/216 S. Shelby and 211 S. Shelby ‹ will be leased by Wayside, though NuLu Wayside has the option to relocate them to comparable space.

Wayside¹s day-care operation at 225 S. Shelby St. can remain in place until December 2010.

The deal ³is good for us,² Moseley said, in that the Wayside mission now can plan to build a totally new facility rather than the $4.5 million renovation of the existing site that had been proposed.

³As much as we wanted to build on Market Street, we would have had one new 37,000-square-foot facility, but it still would have been surrounded by seven old buildings² for a total of about 88,000 square feet, she said.

³Now, we¹ll have 88,000 square feet of new space,² she said. ³We are happy we will have an all-new facility for our women and families.²

Wayside Mission is considering several new locations in a site study and new master plan, Moseley said.

The most likely plan is consolidating on East Jefferson Street, where the mission has its men¹s shelter at 423 E. Jefferson. That would mean building on a L-shaped piece of land on the east side of that property, she said.

The partners in NuLu Wayside LLC are Gill Holland, Augusta Brown Holland, Tim Peters, Lois Mateus and two silent partners.

The NuLu players

Gill Holland and his wife, Augusta Brown Holland, own The Group Entertainment LLC, which includes movie production, a book publisher and an art gallery.

Those businesses will be consolidated to 732 E. Market St. in what they call ³The Green Building.²

The project is a renovation for which the Hollands are trying to get a LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable construction through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program.

Gill Holland said he is in talks with the owners of BASA Modern Vietnamese restaurant to possibly move into the first floor.

The Hollands also are partners in NuLu Bridgestone LLC, which bought the Disney Tire Co. property on East Jefferson Street. Their partners in that venture are contractor Tim Peters, Lois Mateus, a retired Brown-Forman Corp. senior vice president and Peters¹ wife, and actor William Mapother.

The big project

The largest project planned for the next few years at East Market is Jefferson Public Market.

The 25,000-square-foot farmers¹ market/connoisseur food destination is planned for the Disney Tire Co. property on East Jefferson Street, said Lois Mateus, who owns a 1,000-acre farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, Tim Peters.

The goal is to duplicate the success of other big-city markets, such as Redding Terminal Market in Philadelphia, which is a destination for locals and tourists alike, Mateus said.

She said the business plan is not complete, but she estimates that creating a large-scale market will cost about $11 million.

Mateus credited Augusta Holland with the idea, saying that Holland had dreamed of creating such a market in Louis -ville while a student at Columbia University in New York City.

The anchor tenant could be Creation Gardens of Louisville, which is considering a move from 609 E. Main St. because of the planned reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction, said Ron Tournier, president of the company. Creation Gardens distributes produce and gourmet foods.

Tournier said he believes relocating to Jefferson Public Market would allow him to expand his distribution operations ³with trucks out the back and retail in the front² in an area projected to grow quickly in population density.

Creation Gardens currently distributes to markets and restaurants in Louisville, and Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Evansville, Ind.


What it is: A developing arts, retail and business district in the 600, 700 and 800 blocks of East Market Street, roughly from Joe Ley Antiques Inc. on the west to Flame Run LLC on the east.

Major NuLu businesses: More than 20 art galleries, including Mary Craik Gallery and Gallery NuLu, as well as Joe Ley Antiques, The Green Building, Jenicca¹s wine bar, Toast restaurant, and Flame Run

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