February 12, 2013

In with the new, out with the old: Properties on and around campus portend growth

By Simon Isham–

A map of the Chevron Lot, the new student recreation center, the lot that was recently sold in an absolute auction, and the Solae Lot in relation to the Belknap campus.

New developments at four plots on and around the Belknap campus  promise development with students in mind.

These properties—the Solae plant on the east side of campus, the Chevron lot on the northwest side, the recently auctioned site next to the SAC, and the new student recreation center next to Kurz Hall—may offer expanded opportunities for athletics and parking, and possibly also for shopping, dining and living.

The silos along I-65 that read “University of Louisville” have an uncertain fate.

On Oct. 24, Solae, the company which owns the silos, announced that it would close on Jan. 31. Now that the last of the workers have gone home, Solae has begun the process of safely removing all chemical-processing equipment from the premises.

Brad Jenkins, the former plant manager at the Solae plant, said, “We have mostly been focused on supporting our employees through this fought imd and safely shutting the plant down the past few months.

“I imagine that our parent company, DuPont, will eventually begin working on future plans for the property. Unfortunately, I will not be a part of that process, and I cannot confirm if a real estate company will be used or not to represent DuPont in the potential sale of the property.”

Lois Smith from DuPont Commercial Real Estate told the Cardinal that DuPont would definitely be selling the property, but that the company was still “in the very early stages of evaluating what we’re going to do with the site.

“We have formed a team, and we will be selling it, we just don’t know what we’ll be selling at this point, since we’re dealing with the machinery right now. We are not close to selling the property right now, but when we do we will not have a presence right there anymore.”

Smith was unable to confirm whether the banners on the sides of the silos which read “University of Louisville” would remain on the property after it was sold, saying that their fate would be determined by whether the new buyer opted to keep the silos or demolish them. She said that DuPont does not know when the property will go on the market.


Solae Property

Mark Hebert, the director of media relations for the university, said that the “U of L Foundation is interested in the property” when it does go up for sale. “As for the silos, we do not lease the space on the silos for the huge ‘University of Louisville’ letters that are displayed on them.  According to the folks in athletics, DuPont has agreed to let U of L display those images at no charge.”

The plant was originally opened in 1919 as a Ralston Purina plant. Manufacturing processes at this plant caused two miles of street surface to explode in 1981.


Chevron Lot

Students who are residents at the Province and Bellamy Apartments, as well as those who live at Cardinal Towne, will be able to park closer to campus as early as this semester.

At the SGA debate on Feb. 5, the university announced that U of L had acquired the Chevron property near the Province.

Purchasing this lot had been on the university’s agenda since 2010, when provost Shirley Willihnganz announced her master plan to the board of trustees. Also on the plan was acquiring the property where Masterson’s Restaurant once stood, the plot that is now Cardinal Towne.

Hebert told the Cardinal that “The U of L Foundation has purchased the property and intends to build a parking lot there that we hope to have open when the Fall semester begins.

“There’s a plan to open up the gate to the property this semester,” said Hebert, “and provide 60 to 70 temporary parking spots while the parking lot is under construction. We don’t know how many vehicles the new parking lot will ultimately hold. It’s still being designed.”


Absolute Auction Lot The 1.6-acre property adjacent to the Student Activities Center was sold in an absolute auction on Jan. 31.

The Cardinal was unable to get in touch with Chris Pike, the project manager at Key Auctioneers who sold the plot, to inquire about the buyer of the property. Also unavailable for comment was Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Tony Lindauer.

Hebert said that the buyer was a bank that had been in dispute with former owner Icon-Cards Development. Icon-Cards bought the property in May 2007 for $1.3 million, but did not develop it further. The plot’s zoning allows for a store, restaurant, bank, parking lot or residential project.

Hebert said that “the (U of L) Foundation would still be interested in talking to the bank that bought it about the future of that property.” The university did not make a bid on the lot. Provost Willihnganz said in January that the university would be interested in the lot only if there were a funding source.

Realty website loopnet.com says that Key Auctioneers has not disclosed the final selling price of the plot.


Student Rec Center

President Ramsey said that the student recreation center had been in the works since 2002, when he became president of the university, but that it was only recently that the right location found.

Now several months past the  groundbreaking, Ramsey called the ceremony to place the final beam was “a celebration of the incredible and outstanding students and former students at the University of Louisville.”

SGA president Justin Brandt, who spoke at the ceremony, told the audience that “(The new SRC) has truly been a group effort, and its amazing what we’ve accomplished. In my four years here, I have seen this campus transformed in so many ways, from new dining facilities, to new housing options on campus, and even a new basketball arena. While these additions to our community have been incredible, I believe that the one we are at today might stand above them all.

“The university has seen a great increase in student reteintion and graduation rates,” said Brandt. “as well as the number of students living on campus. This new student recreation center will only further advance these important objectives.

Heddy Kurz, one of the main donors helping to fund the building, was present at the ceremony. The student residence Herman and Heddy Kurz Hall is located next door to the new recreation center.

The 128,000-square foot center is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2013, and will provide space for intramurals, informal recreation, sports clubs, and fitness, as well as classes offered by the health and sports studies departments.

The building will be the first at U of L to feature heating and cooling provided entirely by geothermal energy.

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Graphic by Simon Isham/The Louisville Cardinal

[UPDATE: April 17, 2013]

The Courier Journal reported on April 17 that the family of Metro Council Member and U of L archivist Tom Owen and his family have sold the remainder of their Belknap property. The land is located at 2501 South Fourth Street.

The Owens purchased the land in 2006 for $2.35 million. They sold the plot for $5.65 million to a North Carolina development firm, who says they plan to build student apartments on the site.

Metro Council approved the zoning of the property for 252 student apartments and 7,000 square feet of retail space. Owen abstained from this vote.

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