Feb. 20, 2017

The Louisville Skyline Adds The Omni Hotel

Eamon O'Brien is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Omni Hotel Louisville, an exciting new addition to the city skyline. Anyone who has driven through the heart of downtown lately can’t help but notice that the hotel is flying up. The structure encompasses two square blocks from Second to Third, and just about Liberty to Muhammad Ali. Eamon O’Brien joins the Perspectives podcast sponsored by the local Louisville luxury real estate brokerage to discuss what we can expect from his huge undertaking when it’s finished. 

They’ve just laid the 15th floor foundation, but there will be 30 stories in total, O’Brien says. Floors one through three will be the “podium level,” which will include what he calls an “urban lifestyle market” with food and beverage outlets. Floors four to 16 will include 612 guestrooms and suites. Floors 17 to 30 will house 225 one and two-bedroom luxury rental apartments. The rooftop will include an outdoor pool, hot tub, and café. Upon completion, the Omni Hotel will be the third-tallest building in the city – and the tallest hotel in Louisville. People who are living or staying at the hotel will be one block from Fourth Street Live and close to Pendennis Club.

Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, initiated the project after visiting Omni Nashville in the fall of 2013, and seeing what an impact it had on the surrounding community. The corporate team spent some time immersing themselves in Louisville to see what the city had to offer. “Every Omni hotel is different,” O’Brien explains. “We have 60 hotels throughout the United States, and every hotel needs to be unique and have that genuine and authentic color to match the destination.”

Laura McCoy designed the interior of Omni Louisville. Kentuckians will be very proud to know that, though the Omni chain calls Texas their home base, McCoy grew up locally -- in Paducah, Kentucky -- and brings a lot of local pride into the aesthetics. Every piece of furniture, fabric, or fixture comes from Louisville history – from the bourbon, copper, and amber tones and the horse farm paintings done by a local artist in the rooms, to the Louisville Slugger bat lamp and the custom bourbon barrel-shaped nightstands exclusive to Omni Louisville. 

The art in itself – 75 percent of which is from the commonwealth of Kentucky -- is a great excuse to come down to Omni and check out the new hotel. O’Brien has been down to St. James and met with the local artists, art curators, fine glass blowers, and artisans. There will be an open call for anyone from students and novices, to professionals and retirees, to submit their paintings, sculptures, steel and copper works, bourbon crafts, etc. for consideration. So far, Local Language, Omni’s California art consultants, have been blown away by what they’ve seen coming out of the Louisville real estate market. 

Omni’s art strategy is to do a broad stroke first to capture all price points, all artist levels, all types of art -- all the design statements and mood elements that the Waldrop and Nichols interior designers and the HKS exterior designers are looking for. Bourbon, copper, culture, water, cast iron, steel – these are all the broad stroke elements. “Getting our arms around Louisville, all of our great artists here -- that's step one,” O’Brien explains. Step Two is presenting a wide range of different art pieces to Waldrop and Nichols and to Omni to see what makes the final cut. 

“We wanted to make the design timeless and authentic to Louisville,” O’Brien summarizes. “For a convention hotel, this is extremely unique,” he stresses. 

Local Partners make the difference

“We’re passionate about our local partners,” O’Brien says. “We talked to multiple coffee shops, but the Heine Brothers really knocked it out of the park. They’re really great people. They named one of their coffees, Rhonda’s Blend, after a staff member who died tragically in a car accident, and donate 50 cents of every bag sold to the Center for Women and Families. They’re involved in trying to get clean water into Mexico. That’s the type of people they are. We like to tell these stories outside Louisville.” 

Other plans for Omni Louisville in the works include the butcher for Bob’s Steak and Chophouse, some sort of breakfast sandwich kiosk, a barbecue joint, some type of “fish element” – whether it’s sushi or a fish market, two liquor retailers, a craft beer and wine store, a bourbon tasting room and bourbon seller, and a high-level homegoods store. There will be a few other surprises, O’Brien assures us, but the details aren’t quite worked out yet.  

Omni’s exterior designer, HKS, was really blown away by the sense of community in Louisville’s history. “Back in Evan Williams' day, they would have their livelihood down on Whiskey Row. A lot of people were trying to make ends met for their family. They would have the bourbon barrels and their other goods out there for all to see, to draw in business. There was a real sense of buying, selling, trading, and community that dates back to the late 1700s-early 1800s. Our architect really wanted to bring that in with the floor to ceiling windows and natural light, juxtaposed by black brick to highlight the grit and hardworking blue-collar history. “It’s going to be a great next step for the community,” he adds. 

The one exception to the open, street-level accessibility will be the speakeasy – accessible through a hidden back alley entrance and a very secretive entrance from the hotel. “The hope is that you’ll get into it behind a hidden piece of art, so it would be a canvas that would turn into a door type of a thing,” says O’Brien. The speakeasy will feature 60 seats, four bowling lanes, and craft “prohibition” cocktails. O’Brien hopes to get light fixtures from Joe Ley Antiques and the bowling pins designed by Louisville Slugger – who actually made bowling pins out of their Main Street factory in the 1890s. 

“At Omni, we love to tell stories,” O’Brien says. “That’s what we want, as travelers, I feel. You want to go to a city and experience it like a local, so you can tell your family and friends about all that’s going on.”

Omni Attracts Professionals And Stay-cations

Louisville has a rich culture that lent itself to a unique aesthetic, but it also made sense from an economic standpoint. Right now, Metro Louisville offers about 20,000 hotel rooms in all price points, which gives the city a 70 percent occupancy – so there’s definitely room to grow. Louisville can compete on a similar scope as other cities where Omni has a presence – certainly Indianapolis, Nashville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh. The billion dollars’ worth of development, including the brand new Kentucky International Convention Center due to open in 2018, definitely adds to the favorable business climate of the city. O’Brien says that Omni has been a popular brand – not just for business professionals visiting the local convention centers – but for locals in need of stay-cations and leisure travelers pouring in from neighboring towns and states as well. O’Brien and his colleague, Todd Roadarmel – who opened Omni Nashville, love to have a friendly rivalry about how the new Omni Louisville will steal all the business away.

According to O’Brien, today’s convention traveler needs a few different amenities: they need more natural light – the floor to ceiling windows; places to network; and more contiguous exhibit space, because that's where a lot of these associations really generate their revenue.” Omni, of course, offers all of that. Upstairs, there will be 70,000 square feet of meeting space to lure in groups and convention travelers. “The response from local event planners has been fantastic,” O’Brien adds. 

The stay-cation crowd looks for amenities – like the urban lifestyle market. This portion of the hotel will include functional grocery stores, as well as six food and beverage outlets -- all accessible from the street and open to the public. There will be a flower shop on the corner of Third and Liberty; flatbread pizzas and 12-14 Kentucky craft beers at Iron Quarter; an inviting, open-air bar opening up to Liberty Street at The Hollow Square; and Heine Brothers, everybody’s favorite local coffee shop. 

The southeast corner of the building will have an outdoor pool, a hot tub, daybeds, cabanas, fire pits, small event space, and a rooftop café / bar with a cantilevered ceiling for use in all types of weather. “The great thing about the pool is there is a great view of Christ Church across the street and it faces the sun, which will be consistent on the pool deck.” The full-service Mokara Spa has been one of the top 50 spas in the country for the last two years. There you can have your hair and nails done, or get a massage and rejuvenate. These aspects are thoughtful additions geared toward the stay-cation couple or out-of-town leisure travelers who are looking for a relaxing sanctuary. 

The Big Day

The tentative opening date is set for April 7th, 2018. “The O'Brien in me is still pushing for St. Patrick's Day,” Eamon laughs, but he wouldn’t be able to announce that until a bit closer to the date. “The 248 men and women that are working on our site are doing a great job, so hopefully we will continue that, and Mother Nature will help us out along the way,” he adds.

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Feb. 15, 2017

Top 5 Comfort Issues In New Homes According To Builder Performance Group

Got questions about luxury custom home building in Louisville, KY? There is no better source for answers than Jason Black, the president and owner of Artisan Signature Homes, Norton Common's best known and most accomplished custom and luxury home builder. Today he’s on the Custom Home Builder Podcast, along with Eric George from Building Performance, to talk about how to make a new home more comfortable and efficient. 

 “Everybody thinks that you’re building a new house these days, you’re using the great insulation, and new technology, my house is going to be energy efficient just because it's a new house, and that's completely false,” says Jason Black. “That's one of the main reasons that we hire Eric with his company. He works as an independent contractor, a third-party verification, to verify that the homes we build are up to the highest standards.” 

Here are five of the top comfort issues found in new homes:

Fireplaces - Eric George recommends installing a natural gas insert or an electric fireplace that gives you the cozy look, without the drafts of a traditional wood-burning hearth. Jason Black explains that you can have a super-efficient, all-foam house, but if you’re attaching an 8-18” flue, there are many holes in the insulation, going right through the building envelope. “It takes a lot of air with it,” adds George. Another point to consider is that the fireplace must be in the original architect plan; otherwise, it’s a challenge to insulate around it. “I don’t like my fireplace guy to be my insulation contractor,” Black says. A wood-burning fireplace out on the back patio would be a better bet for people who like that aesthetic. George warns against installing vent-less gas fireplaces in a well-insulated home, as it puts off carbon monoxide and added moisture to the air.   

“Unfortunately for me, most of my customers like a wood burning fireplace, so we are violating Eric's recommendations,” Black says. He explains to his luxury custom home building clients that there is a trade-off. The house can’t be built as tight as possible – air-sealed and insulated really well for high performance and low utility bills… AND have a wood-burning fireplace. When you put in a fireplace like that, there needs to be plenty of fresh air coming into the home (usually down through the chimney or sometimes through an air cycler or ERV); otherwise, the fire will burn up all the available oxygen in the house and potentially back-draft into the home.

 Knee Walls - A knee wall is a short wall, usually under three feet high, which supports the rafters and faces the attic space. In the summer, these walls are between the 120-130 degree attic and the 70-75 degree home. “Those knee walls are the only thing separating those two extreme temperatures,” explains George, so these walls need to be insulated even better than the exterior walls to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.   

“Knee walls are a big issue that I find,” says George. “Typically, it has to do with the way that they're framed.” It’s more challenging to insulate trusses, for example. If the builder uses fiberglass or cellulose insulation and fails to include zip wall or OSB sheathing facing the attic, then the hot or cold air will still pass through the insulation, no matter what. 

To properly insulate a knee wall, the framer needs to make sure that he has six sides to the wall cavities, with left, right, top, bottom and attic side plates. George likes to see zip walls, Oriented Strand Board, or plywood. The best product possible is a foam board with insulated sheathing. You can do it will spray foam, you can do it with fiberglass or cellulose, but it really starts with the framing. 

It may cost more money to set up the structure properly, but you are more comfortable with lower utility bills in the end. “If you insulate and seal the house correctly, then you should also need a smaller heating and cooling system,” George adds.

Vaulted or Tray Ceilings - Vaulted ceilings or tray ceilings are a cool architectural feature that people really like for their new homes. Again, there are insulating considerations in the building phase. Where the building code may only require R19 or R25 insulation in the 2x8 rafter in the bonus room over a garage, a vaulted ceiling would require R30. “Vaulted ceilings are right up against the roof deck,” George explains, “so you’ve got a lot of heat gain that comes through when the sun hits. They need to be insulated well.” 

You can get an R30 with five inches of closed cell spray foam or 10 inches of fiberglass. With spray foam, you don’t necessarily need as much depth or as much framing, but you’re looking at a more expensive material. Personally, George is a fan of the spray foam and the dense-packed cellulose for vaulted ceilings. “Once it’s packed, it’s packed,” he says. “With fiberglass, you can just keep packing and packing and packing. You can technically get the density higher, but you’ll go through a whole lot more material.” 

Recessed lights or speakers are often installed in vaulted ceilings, which eats up some of the space for insulation. “I try to encourage builders to use the new kind of flush-mount LED lights that look like recessed lights, but they don't actually take up that space,” George says. Builders need to be careful to make sure the lighting isn’t sweating or causing condensation drips that create a void of uninsulated space in the ceiling.  

For Black, these issues are all hammered out during the pre-drywall inspection. “That pre-drywall inspection is always an eye-opener for me,” Black chuckles. “As soon as I think I've got it all figured out, Eric comes in and shows me that there's a reason I pay him to come in and tell me I'm wrong!”

Duct Work - Improperly sized duct work is one of the biggest problems in the industry, says George. There is not nearly enough training in this department. “What I see a lot times is you'll have a brand new system that's installed. They'll pay for the 95 or 98% efficient gas furnace, and maybe it's a dual fuel system with a heat pump on it as well. They got this really fancy, really expensive box that creates the heat,” George says, “BUT it's attached to a duct system that can't move that heat through the house efficiently.” It’s like putting a Ferrari engine into a Ford Escort, he says, where the transmission and everything else can’t handle the engine. 

The layout is another issue, especially when floor cavities and wall cavities are used as return ducts, which is extremely common in the Midwest. “If they're using building cavities and not fully ducting the system, then they're not going to get the air flow through it that they need,” George says. 

The best method is to use duct work for the returns. This trickles all the way down to the architect, who must allow enough space for the proper HVAC. “There's nothing necessarily wrong with panned-in floor cavities and wall cavities as long as they are the proper size and as long as they're sealed properly,” George clarifies. Sealing the duct work is important in providing air flow to the bedrooms. When duct work is not sealed well enough, there will be a furnace on one side of the basement that moves air all the way to the other side of the house, but leaks most of the air out closest to the furnace. By comparison, “You wouldn’t install plumbing in the house that leaks,” says George. 

The best HVAC contractors use a duct sizing calculation known as Manual D. The rule of thumb is that you need about 400 cubic feet of air per ton of air conditioning, so if you have a 4 ton air conditioner in the house, it needs 1,600 CFM of air to move through that system. There are duct sizing charts that professionals use to work through comfort issues related to duct efficiency.

There are many factors that go into the calculation of the heating and cooling load of a house – how tight the house is, the type of insulation used, the type of windows and doors, even the orientation of the sun. The pros can put flow hoods overtop the supply registers or return ducts to see how much air is coming into the room, which will reveal whether the duct pressure is balanced or not.

Basements - “Everybody's been in a house where the basement is cold year round, and it seems like there's nothing that you can do to change that fact,” says George. Ideally, a home will not have more than a 5-10 degree temperature difference between the first floor and the basement. If that is not the case, it’s either a duct work issue, where not enough air is getting down into the basement – or, most commonly, an insulation issue. 

The ground is naturally cold. Many people liked having a cold basement for food and wine storage. In Kentucky, foundation walls go two feet under the ground, where it’s about 55 to 57 degrees year-round. Concrete has about the same resistance to heat transfer as a single pane glass window – about an R1 insulation value. “It blows most people’s mind thinking about that,” according to George. “Concrete is really good at absorbing heat and releasing heat slowly. It's also good at absorbing moisture, water vapor and releasing it slowly.” 

Commonly, he sees builders putting fiberglass insulation in the wall cavities, just an inch or two off the concrete, so there is space behind the insulation where air is circulating. Even though the Kentucky building code only requires the top two feet of the foundation insulated, George recommends that the top four be done, if not the entire foundation wall – using a foam board product or spray foam directly applied to the concrete. If price were no issue, George would use Insulated Concrete Forms – which are basically like Legos with two inches of foam on the outside and two inches of foam on the inside and concrete poured in the middle.

George explains: “I would insulate the exterior foundation wall, probably with two inches of foam from the footer up to grade, and then on the inside I would spray foam it from the rim joists down onto the concrete, and it come down at least two feet if not four, and overlap the outside insulation with the inside.”

One way to make basements more comfortable is to do a radiant heated floor, which includes a hot water system beneath the home that keeps the entire room warmed up.

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Feb. 9, 2017

Why Louisville’s Barking About BarksTown Road Pet Boutique

In this edition of Perspectives, our look at trending businesses in Louisville, we’re speaking with Kim Reece, the owner and founder of Barkstown Road. Kim’s pet supply boutique is one of the businesses that has helped make The Highlands a unique, funky and cool place to live and shop over the past five years.

They used to be down near restaurants like Yang Kee Noodle and Homemade Pie and Ice Cream by Baxter Avenue. A year and a half after opening, they moved down to a more retail-oriented location at 2005 Bonnycastle, around the corner from Doo Wop Shop and Leatherhead. “It made sense because The Highlands is a long-established neighborhood of people who support local businesses, a shopping destination that attracts people from all over town,” Reece acknowledges. 

A year ago, another Barkstown Road boutique opened at 2005 Frankfort Avenue in Clifton -- in the same building as a holistic vet. “Frankfort Avenue is a walkable part of town that has a lot of empty nesters, people who don’t have kids yet, or people who aren’t planning to have kids, where their dogs kind of are their kids,” Reece says. What could be better for a pet retailer than people who take care of their critters like their children?

Unlike other pet shops, the Barkstown Road boutique is smaller, locally owned and operated, and offers more specialty items you can’t necessarily find at the larger stores here in Louisville. For instance, Holistic Vet raw foods out of the freezer is one of the trending lines shoppers won’t find at big box stores. 

“That's one of my favorite things we carry is more biologically appropriate foods, whether it's a dry food, a dehydrated food, or a frozen raw food,” Reece explains. “Dogs and cats both still have components in their bodies that allow them to break down raw meat. They have enzymes in their saliva to help break down raw meat. Their stomachs are more acidic than ours. Their digestive tracts are shorter. Biologically, they're still made to break down raw meat.” In addition to the raw foods, they also carry convenient dry foods that are grain-free, low-carb, and made with meat as the main ingredients.

In addition to food, Barkstown Road also carries durable dog toys and catnip mice. You’ll find a big chew corner and a freeze-dried raw bar. “You can pick up things for your dog to gnaw on and keep them happy and busy and keep their teeth clean. Hopefully, leave you alone for a little bit so you can have some peace and quiet,” says Reece.

It’s hard not to notice that the dogs coming into Barkstown Road have shiny coats, good-looking teeth, healthy weights, and happy dispositions. “We have a couple customers whose dogs are currently being treated for cancer,” Reece adds. “Their vets initially, about a year ago, gave these dogs like two months to live. They switched from dry food diets to one of our commercially-prepared raw food diets and incorporated some of our raw goat’s milk as well. Now, a year later, they’re alive and well. You would never know they’re fighting cancer.” Reece is not a vet by trade, but she says the research she’s done and the experiences of the customers she interacts with is compelling. 

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Feb. 3, 2017

Podcast: Chateau Bourbon Is A Norton Commons Hit!

Missy Hillock runs the Chateau Bourbon bed-and-breakfast on Meeting Street, which is arguably one of the most popular porches in Norton Commons. “We have to wipe the nose prints off the windows every day,” she jokes. There’s a cool swing on the front porch that solicits visitors and impromptu selfies alike. Chateau Bourbon is a great example of how anyone with creativity and a passion can open a business here in Norton Commons and thrive. 

Hillock has lived in Norton Commons for 4.5 years, but she’s celebrating the one-year anniversary of his business. Many Norton Commons entrepreneurs live above their businesses, but Hillock wasn’t ready to downsize at the time she decided to do the bed-and-breakfast. “We actually built an innkeeper suite for my mother, who lives on the property,” she explains. They live just a few streets over, so they still enjoy the convenience that a Norton Commons lifestyle is known for.

“I had never intended on opening a business here,” Hillock explains. “I’m a psychologist by my professional life, which I planned on doing well into my 50s.” Opening a bed-and-breakfast was sort of a pipe dream she came up with after traveling around a lot. Over time, she and her husband noticed that the business sector was growing along Meeting Street in Norton Commons, but there wasn’t any overnight accommodations for people looking to relocate here or visiting friends and family within the community.

“We did our research. We crunched the numbers. We decided it was well worth it and we couldn’t be any more pleased with how it turned out,” Hillock says. “It really is the perfect place not only to live, but for those who can't live within the community, for them to be able to come and visit and experience the restaurants and just the ambience and the atmosphere of the neighborhood. All the green space and the activities and such and then be able to stay overnight has been really a great benefit, I feel like, to our city.”

Neighboring builder Jason Black of Artisan Signature Homes has heard a lot of buzz about the food over at Chateau Bourbon. “We make all the food from scratch,” Hillock says. “When you put a sign out that says ‘Bed & Breakfast,’ you better have nice beds and you better have a great breakfast.”

Though she doesn’t have a culinary background and she hasn’t taken any cooking classes, she is motivated to cook by her passion for food. “Most of what we do is based on family recipes and practicing in the kitchen over time,” she explains. People who dine out a lot are blown away by the food because they are not accustomed to home-cooked breakfasts from scratch and homemade frostings that don’t come from a box. When you have a cocktail at Chateau Bourbon, that’s homemade mixer – not a bottle of sour mix. As Hillock sees it: “It’s really quite simple, but delicious because there are no additives – it’s just fresh and homemade.”

The Hillocks don’t consider themselves “Bourbon connoisseurs”, but they love to drink it. They’re not pretentious. “Put it in front of us and we will drink it,” she explains. “We also like to cook with Bourbon, which is both savory and sweet,” she adds. “We thought it would be great to tie our business in with the Urban Bourbon Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” Hillock explains. “It’s so classic Kentucky.”

Hillock adds that the most rewarding part of her job is seeing others experience a business that she’s created. “It's great to be able to see when people walk in the door, they gasp when they see the place. Then, when they take a bite of food, and they’ll say things like ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten’ or ‘This is the best cocktail I’ve ever had’ or ‘I’ve never even tried bourbon, but now that’s all I want to drink because this cocktail is so good’ – I mean, that’s instant gratification!” Hillock says it’s easy to be passionate about her work when the patrons are so appreciative.

Jason Black loves the back sleeping porch at the B&B, but there are four other rooms (with their own bathrooms), each with their own distinctive charm. One room is on the ground floor and three rooms are upstairs. What’s unique about Chateau Bourbon is that it was designed to be a bed-and-breakfast from the start, so it’s really geared toward visitor experience. There is a business center with a guest pantry. The rooms are all master suites -- modern, appointed with televisions, king-sized beds, and individual air controls. One of the rooms offers two queen-sized beds, including one out on the enclosed sleeping porch. Each room is decorated in different color schemes.

The furniture is very eclectic – some of it restored furniture passed down within their family or paintings that have been custom-ordered. You’ll also see a lot of personal touches hand-made by Mr. Hillock himself. The fireplace, floor-to-ceiling headboard, vanity, light fixture, and the back patio swings were all constructed out of Maker’s 46 bourbon staves, barrels and bottles. Some of the paintings were made by Missy Hillock’s mother.

Many of the people living in Norton Commons have stayed at Chateau Bourbon for a night away from home and a home-cooked breakfast. It’s especially handy for people who are having renovations done to the interiors of their homes, as they don’t have to travel far and can keep an eye on their projects. International guests have come to stay from as far away as Australia. Most business is driven by word-of-mouth and personal connections made with the local distilleries, Convention Bureau, and community businesses.

If you’re thinking of booking a stay at Chateau Bourbon for a special occasion coming up, note that the B&B is booked for Derby until 2019. Their “high season” tends to run from April through November. However, they are still a relatively new business, so they are not booked every single night, so there is a likelihood of coming in on short notice. For more information, visit Chateaubourbon.com. You can also connect on Twitter and Instagram @chateaubourbon or Facebook at ChateauBourbonKY.

Jan. 25, 2017

TailSpin Ale Fest 2017 Is a Craft Beer Event To warm the soul

In this edition of Perspectives, a podcast series produced and published by Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, Tisha Gainey and Trevor Cravens are here to talk about the upcoming Tailspin Ale Fest being held on February 18th, 2017 at Bowman Field. Ten years ago, Gainey was a craft beer distributor in Kentucky and Indiana. She met Draft Magazine publisher Cravens eight years ago at an event. The two got to thinking: “Well, isn’t it time Louisville had a winter warmer festival?” Thus, Tailspin was born.

This will be the festival’s fourth year running. The higher alcohol content (usually around 8%) is typically what constitutes a “winter warmer” beer, explains Gainey. It’s a craft beer that really “warms the body and warms the soul,” she says. From Cravens’ perspective, Louisville was ripe to become the next “beer-centric” city because we’re nationally known for our support of local businesses and farm-to-table restaurants. We only had a handful of craft breweries in town, which represented a void that needed to be filled. Since the festival first started, the number of local breweries increased to 11 with a few new ones on the way. “There’s a burgeoning beer scene here now and still room for more,” says Cravens.

A decade ago, Gainey’s work as a craft beer distributor involved representation of about 60 different brands from around the country and the world, trying to educate the public on the different styles of beer. “If you know you don’t like bitter qualities, you don’t want an IPA or a hoppy beer. If you like that bread-like and toasty quality, you want a malty beer,” she would tell people. The evolution of the craft beer industry has taken us way, way beyond basics, of course. Independent, small-batch beer producers are pushing the envelope with their ingredients and Gainey confesses, the expert that she is, even she is learning about emerging flavors and styles coming out. It’s their hope that the status of beer will be on par with wine or cocktails in restaurants, where meals are served.

This year’s Tailspin Festival will feature over 70 breweries with reps coming in directly from each brewery to answer questions and put a face to the brand. More than 200 beers will be on tap for tastings. Brewers are traveling to Louisville from 16 states, including California, New York, Florida and Michigan – thanks, in large part, to promotion through Draft Magazine.

“Something new and fun we have for this year is the Liquor Barn Bourbon Barrel Beer Bar – quite a mouthful to say!” Gainey admits. This hub of activity will bring all Bourbon-aged beer to one location for people who love “the other great liquid from Kentucky.” There is also a Cider and Sour Bar – two styles that are on the rise across craft breweries in America. “Kentucky Heritage” is new exhibit in a 100x60 ft. tent, which pays homage to Kentucky and all the great things local brewers are doing in town.

The festival takes place on February 18th, 2017 at the Louisville Executive Aviation Center, a 28,000-square-foot hangar on Gas Boulevard at Bowman Field. This year, they’ve doubled the amount of outdoor space in front of the hangar to an additional 30,000 square feet. You can expect to see the Vintage Warbirds on display and flying over the event (weather permitting). Tailspin features all the usual festival fanfare -- five or six food trucks, live music, and retail vendors.

Though it’s considered a “winter warmer” festival, Gainey says that all beers aren’t 8% ABV and higher. There are lighter German beers, lighter selections from out-of-town breweries, and wide-ranging samples from new local brands that haven’t formally launched yet. “There’s something for everyone,” she assures. Better get your tickets at www.TailspinAleFest.com soon, though – the event sells out every year, we’re told!

On the Tailspin website, you’ll notice a few different options. You can buy shuttle tickets from Mellow Mushroom, Liquor Barn, Drakes in the Paddock, or New Albanian Brewery for $10, which includes a ride to the event, a small appetizer, a pint glass. Drakes is doing a $15 gift card and a ride. The VIP Experience tickets include early entry to the festival with about 300-400 other people, giving you “pick of the litter” in trying your favorite or rare beer selections. You also get a food voucher and a special surprise souvenir. General Admission tickets include entry into the festival, a tasting glass, and a tasting card

Another point worth mentioning is that part of the proceeds from Tailspin goes to Dare To Care, a charitable organization in town that delivers fresh produce and canned goods to the needy. Last year, the festival raised a little over $12,000. The group hopes to make a bigger donation this year. Festivalgoers can also support Dare To Care by purchasing a paper stein for $1 from Liquor Barn, which puts your name up on the wall with 100% of the proceeds going directly to Dare To Care. You can also participate in a raffle at the festival where you can enter to win $500 to Liquor Barn. “We call that a mountain of love,” Gainey says. “You get a mountain of beer, alcohol, and great gourmet foods out at Liquor Barn.”


Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Jan. 10, 2017

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Joins Local Podcast Show For An Episode

City of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has often said that his administration is founded upon three principles: to create well-paying jobs, improve education at all levels, and to be even more compassionate. When these three objectives are achieved, the mayor believes Louisville will reach its full potential as a great 21st Century city. He joins this episode of the Perspectives podcast series, created by Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, to elaborate on the “compassion” pillar that he sees as so vital to the wellbeing of our city.

When he was elected, Fischer says he “wanted people to visualize a city where everybody is learning all the time.” Imagine a Louisville that is healthy in all aspects. Imagine a city where the people are compassionate and “lifting each other up,” he urges.  “I think that’s a great view for a city, and that’s what we work toward every day.”

Guided by principles he was raised by, the challenge was: how do you take a city of 775,000 citizens and create an international model of compassion, kindness, respect and love – these intrinsic human values that bring people together into a community? “We’re the first city to have branded ourselves this way, but certainly I hope we’re not the first city to think about using principals of compassion.”

Louisville has always been a progressive city and a city of hospitality, the mayor says. We broke down housing barriers based on discriminatory laws. We were the first city in this part of the country to have a fairness ordinance for LGBT communities. Our Festival of Faith is known around the world. Jefferson County Public Schools received praise in TIME Magazine last month for the excellent curriculum based around social and emotional skills, nutrition and wellness, mindfulness and broader learning opportunities. This past April was the fifth annual Give a Day Week service campaign. This year, 175,000 volunteers participated by donating their food, clothing, blood, skills, or time to someone in need.

Many people don’t know this, but Mayor Fischer is a huge music fan and once ran Vanderbilt’s Concert Committee along with a few of his colleagues. “It was one of the great chapters in my life,” he recalls fondly. “I love putting on big events – love putting music in the forefront because music brings people together. Bringing different folks together to learn about each other and celebrate common interests is what fosters compassion.”

He points to the Mayor’s Music Series, a local music showcase that takes place the first Thursday of every month. Louisville is really a hotbed of top-caliber music talent – from classical fixtures like Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra, to rapper Bryson Tiller and “America’s Got Talent” contestant Lincoln Bridge, to My Morning Jacket and the burgeoning indie scene. “Your ability to walk into a show that really delights you is really high in the city,” says Mayor Fischer. Music and compassion are just two of many, many things that make the City of Louisville such a remarkable place to live.






Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Dec. 22, 2016

An Inside Look At Locust Grove Museum In Louisville

What makes Louisville so interesting and full of possibilities? No one knows better than Brian Cushing, Program Coordinator at Locust Grove History Museum. He joins the Louisville Perspectives Podcast, brought to you by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, to discuss why Locust Grove is more than just a static piece of local history – but a dynamic learning experience, in a broader sense.

“Well Locust Grove is really nicely tied to the early history of Louisville,” Cushing explains. The estate was commissioned by William Corghan of Dublin, Ireland – a Revolutionary War veteran -- in 1792. In those days, it was certainly considered a big mansion – not the biggest in Kentucky, but not a regular person’s house. There were only a few other stone and brick buildings up at this point – many residents still lived in log homes then, says Cushing. Though Croghan owned a farm, he was never really a farmer. “He was a businessman – and this was his country seat,” Cushing explains.

Croghan’s family moved into the home in 1795. His wife, Lucy Clark, was the younger sister of George Rogers Clark who is credited with founding the City of Louisville. George Rogers Clark lived here at Locust Grove for a spell after suffering a stroke and leg amputation in his old age. According to Cushing, George Rogers Clark discovered our city in 1778 while roaming with a regiment of troops. He stopped at Corn Island, but ultimately built his fort at 12th and Rowan. “From there you have the first Louisvillians. It was just fourteen years after the nucleus of Louisville started that Locust Grove started being built,” Cushing summarizes.

Back then, walking between Locust Grove and the town of Louisville would have taken the same amount of time as going to Cincinnati by today’s standards – it’s not impossible, but it’s not necessarily a place you pop out to on a regular basis. In the earliest years of Locust Grove, there was walking, there were horses, the affluent may have taken a carriage. Important people did make a point of stopping at Locust Grove when they came through town. Famed explorers Louis and (baby brother William) Clark came through on their expedition. President Monroe came in 1819. Andrew Jackson worked with George Rogers Clark as a general and later returned for a visit as President. Much later, Locust Grove was the site of a famous duel between Cassius Clay and Robert Wickliffe.

By the time the ownership transferred to William Croghan’s oldest son, John, the home fell into obscurity for a while. People understood Clark had lived there some time ago, but it was pretty much just a family farm until the county got it in 1961. Over time, structures have come and gone on the property, but visitors today can still see some of the main estate as William Croghan and George Rogers Clark lived it – the main home and the smokehouse, for instance. The smokehouse is the long, three-room stone structure beyond the outdoor bathrooms. Everything else has been carefully reconstructed to reflect the original style, on the old foundations. “They never cut any corners,” Cushing assures us. The interior is decorated to reflect wealth -- the paint, wallpaper and furnishings were all imported from the east.

One of the reconstructed areas he’s most excited about is the kitchen, which is completely functional. We can go in there and put some of the old cooking skills into practice to learn about how things were gone back in the earliest years of our city and nation. “Some of the best meals I’ve ever had have come out of that hearth in the kitchen,” Cushing confesses. Once you get into the mindset, you can really accomplish anything a modern kitchen can do with the right tools, he adds. A culinary-minded volunteer is out there cooking at least once a week. Then there are Revolutionary War reenactment volunteers who stay for the weekend, eating meals prepared in the kitchen.

The reenactors come from the Northwest Territorial Alliance and the Brigade of the American Revolution. The biggest Revolutionary War reenactment happens at the end of October during the 18th Century Market Fair. During this time, the front circle drive of the home is filled with vendors and crafts from the time period. They set up the American camp opposite of the stone wall, and the British camp in the garden quads. Throughout the day, they’ll be demonstrating military drills. The grand finale takes place in the big valley, where both sides face off for a historically accurate encounter. From year to year, different Revolutionary War battles from across America are depicted. Each year, they try to play out a full year of the war, which ran from 1775 – 1783, so they’re running on a seven-year cycle.

“The research is always moving forward,” says Cushing. For instance, a couple of letters surfaced within the past few years to shed some light on the family. “One letter referred to the death of the third son’s wife and said that she died in Lucy Croghan’s arms. Then there was a letter from the oldest daughter that referred to enslaved people being able to read and write, which is a detail we didn’t previously know.”

There are many ways to experience the museum. People who are interested in volunteering are invited to contact Locust Grove directly. For instance, St. X High School sends crews of guys to do heavy lifting as needed. Kentucky Shakespeare has been hosting high-impact performances in the historical setting. Visitor center and the 55 acres of rolling farmland are available for year-round rentals if you’re planning a wedding or company meeting.

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Dec. 2, 2016

Choosing The Right School For Your Family In JCPS System

Access to excellent educational opportunities is one of the most important considerations for young families buying real estate. Allison Martin, Chief of Communications and Community Relations for the Jefferson County Public Schools, joins this super informative edition of the Louisville Perspectives Podcast, hosted by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty.

Louisville homeowners can choose from 155 schools in the Jefferson County Public School system. Every school has a different feel, and it’s very much like buying a home where you know it just “feels like home” when you walk inside, says Martin. “It is amazing to be able to have this type of quality public school system available in a large urban area,” she adds.

For starters, jefferson.kyschools.us lists the “resides” school for a particular address – that’s the school your children are most likely going to attend based on where you live. The website lets you check what bus your child would ride, find open houses and tours, and learn more about schools based on interests.

On top of school choice, Louisville residents may opt to send their children to the Traditional Program, the STEM program, performing arts courses, or magnet programs like the Montessori program, where kids learn at their own pace. At Shawnee High, kids can graduate with a pilot’s license and go on to study at the Naval Academy for a position with the military. There are so many options.

“I encourage everyone to really take advantage of touring our schools,” she adds. “I don’t think you can make a great choice for your family until you go in those schools.” Tours are available through the JCPS website. They are accepting open applications through the beginning of January, so November and December tend to be popular months for tours.

“Eighty-three percent of our families get their first choice when it comes to elementary school and kindergarten,” says Martin. The major challenge is for families who move in the summer or outside the application window in the middle of the school semester. “Magnet program applications go through first and if you didn’t get those, you would be placed in your ‘resides’ or ‘cluster’ school,” Martin explains.

The JCPS system works a little different for middle and high school. Students largely attend the nearest school to their home address – with the exception of magnet program applicants. Most families automatically receive a notification letter, without having to apply or fill anything out. Most kids attend Kammerer Middle unless they have applied for the gifted and talented program at Noe, for the math, science, technology program at Meyzeek, or the performing arts program at Western Middle School.

As a parent, Martin understands the need for different types of educational opportunities. “I have children that are totally different types of learners on complete ends of the spectrum,” she explains. “One of my children needs a pretty rigid instruction, a lot of direction. One of my children, you could drop in the middle of a free space and have some pencils, and she would have at it and be able to design and create.”

Her artistically inclined daughter does attend her resides elementary school, but she is considering the creative environment at Montessori Middle or Western Middle School’s performing arts program for the years ahead. “Just because you didn’t make a choice in elementary school, you went to your ‘resides’ school, doesn’t mean those choices aren’t available to you when you take a look at middle school,” she clarifies.

Jefferson County is home to some of the top schools in the state and the country – Manual High, Ballard High and Eastern High, to mention a few of the most highly lauded. Atherton is another amazing school being recognized nationally under the leadership of the principal there.

Part of Allison Martin’s job involves debunking some of the misconceptions people have about the school system. “Things were very different in the late 70s, early 80s,” she explains. The old busing system that created schedules based on last name does not exist anymore. Today, 50% of the parents do not choose the school closest to them, so there are buses packed with kids going to the same school, no matter where you live. Over the last 5-10 years, JCPS has worked very hard to facilitate smoother transfers for families moving during an odd time of year.

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Nov. 18, 2016

Nanz And Kraft Continues 150 Year Old Tradition - Podcast

Marketa Greer, manager of design at Nanz and Kraft Florists, joins Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty's podcast to discuss what has made her company a local Louisville tradition for over 150 years. The small business opened as a florist and greenhouse in St. Matthews in 1850, and was purchased by Henry Kraft in 1895. Today, the company is still run by the Kraft family, now under sixth-generation ownership.

The building has undergone some changes after a fire in 1976. The current 20,000-square-foot structure features a greenhouse, three flower coolers, a design center with 25 staff members, and a storefront. In addition to loose or arranged flowers, customers will find a fully-stocked gift center featuring chocolates, candles, furniture and other local products from Indiana and Kentucky’s best artisans. 

The business is booming – locally and nationally. Nanz and Kraft delivers flowers at 9 am, noon and 3 pm every day with 15-20 trucks coming in from Florida, California, and Canada. Most fresh flowers should last about a week and they do have customers who buy new bouquets every seven days, but some businesses clients buy fresh floral arrangements daily. The demand for flowers is great because, as Greer puts it: “Flowers are always the good way to apologize.” Beyond that, plants like bamboo, ficus trees, dracaenas and peace lilies are good for your health and clean the air.

In addition to their commercial business, Nanz and Kraft supports a number of local charities. They help Norton Hospital with their annual Snow Ball and Colors of Courage fundraisers. Every online purchase allows customers to choose a charitable organization to receive a portion of their proceeds.

The pre-holiday open house the first Friday of November to benefit the Louisville Ballet is one of Nanz and Kraft’s biggest events of the year. Last year, they raised about $1,400 selling nutcracker ornaments. Shoppers were also treated to free photos with Nutcracker characters roaming the store. During the event, madrigal singers from Sacred Heart go caroling around the neighborhood businesses to add to the holiday spirit.

Posted in Archive - Podcasts
Nov. 11, 2016

Condos For Sale In Louisville Ky - Buying And Selling

Welcome to this edition of the Greg Fly Podcast, my excuse for talking about topics I'm interested in. I'm Greg Fleischaker, and today I'm speaking with Jon Mand with Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, who is here today to talk about condos. Jon, good to see you. How are you today?

Why Even Consider Buying A Condo?

Jon:    I'm doing great, Greg. Thanks for having me.

Greg:    Well, my pleasure. I actually asked you to come in and talk about condos, so it's not like you stopped in and said, "Hey, Greg, I'm just dying to talk about condos." Real quickly, condos as opposed to a single-family house. What's the difference?

Jon:    Well, a lot of differences, obviously, as we kind of get into it and start talking, but I'd say the biggest difference is just the lifestyle that a client's looking for. The condo buyers are obviously interested in a condo for, typically, a very specific reason, and they don't want the maintenance that goes along with a freestanding single-family home.

Greg:    So the no yards to mow, generally speaking, you don't have to take care of your gutters, or a lot of the stuff that just goes with being a homeowner, right, so ... I guess that "condominium" is a legal term, isn't it, that there's a different kind of ownership than a standalone home, or a single-family residence, that most people think of?

Jon:    That's correct, yes.

Greg:    All right, so most of the condos that we're familiar with are going to be big buildings, right? They're going to have ... They don't have to be big, but 10 to 100 units, and everybody owns a little piece of the common space.

Jon:    That's correct.

Greg:    Is that the easiest way to think about it?

Jon:    Yes, absolutely. I mean, it's effectively an apartment building, but you own your apartment rather than leasing it from a landlord, so that's kind of the easiest structure to think about.

Greg:    Okay, so when someone's thinking about buying a condo ... We'll keep it here in Louisville, because I know different markets have ... You know, New York's a totally different animal, right, so talking about Louisville, what are a few things that people need to keep in mind or think about ask they start approaching the process? Let's say they already know they want to buy a condominium. What are some of the things they need to think about or get in line so they're in good shape when the process happens?

Jon:    You know, I would say one of the primary consideration for people looking at condos is going to be, you know, they're interested in the product because they don't want the maintenance, but the maintenance fees that go along with a condo are a big deal. I would say that that's one of the primary parts of the due diligence you really want to drill down on when looking for a condominium, is what are the monthly HOA or the condo association dues, what's included in that, looking back historically at the financials for the condo association, looking at their current operating budget, making sure there's no outstanding capital purchases that are going to need to be made, that they have adequate reserves to pay for a new roof, or to reseal the parking lot, or the types of large-scale maintenance projects for the entire building. You want to really drill down on the health of the association.

Condominium Homeowner's Association Fees

Greg:    How do you get that information? Because this is something that you don't typically have to do with a home, and years ago, I guess, you didn't have to do with a condo. You need to really ask to get that information, to find out what kind of capital expenditures there are.

Jon:    You do, yeah, and the condo sellers, since the real estate market collapsed back after the boom here, there was some legislation passed, and in Kentucky, condo sellers are required to complete an adequately and appropriately named Condo Seller's Certificate when they're selling a condo. That certificate would include information on exactly the things that I mentioned: what are the dues, what do they cover, what are the reserves, attaching current financial statements from the association. Depending on the building, sometimes it's one of the residents, if you've got a fourplex where they've sold off into condominiums, one of the residents is probably managing the property and president of the association, and they'll pull that information together, or when you get into the larger-scale buildings, they'll have a professional property manager that has all of that information and will provide it, but you get the information from the seller.

Greg:    Because years ago, it seems like ten years ago, maybe, or a little bit longer, you might run into this situation where someone thinks they've done all their homework, they know what their HOA fee is going to be, and then a month after they buy it, the whole building needs new windows, or a new roof or something, and you're like, you know, the fees go up or something, so I think that's actually a good change. It's more homework on the front end, it's more paperwork to get together, but openness and transparency for the buyer, I think that's a good call.

Jon:    Absolutely, yeah. You don't want to get surprised with a special assessment to put a new roof on, or replace all the windows, like you said, and not have known about that when you were calculating your purchase price, or the offer you were willing to pay for a unit in that building.

Greg:    Right, and then what about inspections for a condo? Because that's a little bit different than, say, a home, right? Do you think the inspector should check out as much as possible of the whole building, or just the inside of whatever unit?

Getting A Property Inspection For Your Louisville Condo

Jon:    You know, I typically have them ... Obviously, you really want to check out all of the systems for the individual unit, but I often have the inspectors just do a kind of a quick glance, or double-check, that's probably more appropriate, the information that we've been supplied. So if the HOA says, "Oh, the roof was replaced five years ago, and we waterproofed the basement, where the laundry is," or whatever, I usually like to have the home inspector just go ahead and double-check, and say, "Do you see anything on the exterior of this building that's going to be a significant cost or maintenance item that maybe we haven't been told about up to this point?" I do have the inspectors check it, but obviously the focus of the inspector is on the individual unit.

Greg:    And then, just so people are clear, most condos are, and this is my understanding, is that you kind of own the paint on the wall and not much beyond that, so you can't ask your inspector to start poking holes in the wall to see what's behind it, or ... I guess you can't really do that in a house either, but there's some limitations on what an inspector can get into, so they probably aren't going to be able to tell you about what's inside the wall, or what's in between the two units, what might be next door to you. That's kind of ...

Jon:    Yes, exactly, and they can't tell if the unit upstairs has a leaky tub that's going to drip down through your ceiling or that kind of stuff either, so those are obviously considerations when you get into a multi-family building like that, but in terms of what the inspector, the process they go through, it's going to be very similar to a single-family home, except they're not likely going to be in the basement if it's not part of that individual condo, they're not going to be crawling on the roof, they're not going to be spending a lot of time on the exterior of the building. They're really just going to focus inside that unit.

Greg:    I've had a few people talk to me, or ask questions about common spaces, that they're not always sure about what is included, and to me, that seems that's really a project-by-project consideration, because some of them have very few shared common spaces, and some of them, that's really what you're buying, is the pool and the tennis court, and your little piece of that. You get to use the whole thing, obviously, but you're paying for that amenity and the upkeep for it, so it's really, like you said, it's a lifestyle choice.

Jon:    Yeah, and the common areas, you know, there's different classifications even within that, but just on a building that, even if it had no typical what we would consider amenities, but just had a parking lot and a building, I mean, you, obviously, as the owner, you have an undivided interest in the entire property. It might just be a couple percent that you own, but it's not like you only own one little corner of the property; you own 3%, or 10, whatever the number is, of the entire property, and so you have the right to use the parking space, the parking areas, or you have the right to use the lawn, or when you get into lobbies and lobby areas, elevator lobbies, fitness rooms, swimming pools, all those kind of things, those are all common elements.

Then there's also limited common elements. Those are common ownership, but limited to who can use them. Parking spaces is a great example, I mentioned, sometimes those are included as a kind of a fee simple ownership, but oftentimes it's a limited common element, where everybody owns all the parking spaces, but it's limited to who can park there. Balconies, surprisingly, can sometimes be that way, that it's a limited common element. People think it's part of their unit, and it's really, it's a common element, but again, limited to the use of only the person whose living room opens up onto that balcony. Again, the distinction's going to be who pays to maintain it. If the balcony railing's rusting and needs to be replaced, well, if it's a limited common element, that's different than if it was a unit owner's property.

Greg:    This is all stuff that people really need to make sure they figure out ahead of time, so that you're not stuck in a situation when you buy a condo of not knowing what's your responsibility, and what the condo association is in charge of.

Jon:    Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.

Greg:    When you're talking to an agent, and let's say someone asked you for the information off the MLS for a certain condo that they've seen, that's for sale here in town. You probably ought to ... I'm not saying you should, but realtors should double-check, and make sure that the condo fee that's listed on the MLS sheet is actually the one that is going to be charged, because I've seen that it's not always the same number, and that's a real bummer.

Jon:    Exactly, and that's where, I mean, the Condo Seller's Certificate has helped that, because it is a due diligence piece, it has to be provided, and it's a contingency within the contract, so you will get numbers from the association directly, saying this is what the fees are, this is what they cover. The other thing is, I mean, these condominiums are made by a master deed declaring what they call a horizontal property regime, or a condominium association, so those are all of public record. They're recorded at the county clerk's office in whatever county the condo building's in, and so as an agent working through this process, we can access for our clients, even without involving the association on the front end, necessarily, the current master deed and the bylaws for the condominium association.

There's a lot of information that we can pull in, and it'll spell out what's common area, what's limited common area, what's a unit, what exactly do these people own, percentages of interest within the development, various rules and regulations for the association. There's a lot of information that's publicly available if you know where to look for it. Then, of course, as we go through the process, we want to verify that the information we've accessed is the most current information, and that's where the Condo Seller's Certificate, at the point you're under contract, they will provide the latest version of everything, and we just confirm that what we were looking at originally is, in fact, the most up-to-date info.

Greg:    And then, real quickly, before I let you go, if you're working with a client who's selling a condo here in town, same idea, right? You just get all the paperwork as quickly as possible so that everyone knows where they stand, and again, transparency, you just need to get the information put together, so when the buyer comes, you're not dragging things out.

Jon:    Yeah, exactly.

Greg:    All right, well, thanks for coming in today, and I'll see you on the next episode.

Jon:    Awesome. Thanks, Greg.