Kindred Healthcare’s expansion will bring serious change to Fourth Street’s Theater Square.
The company announced Thursday it’s adding 500 new full-time employees. The expansion includes a new six-story 142,000-square-foot facility to be built by 2017 at Kindred’s headquarters on Broadway next to Theater Square.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer calls the expansion “a dream in terms of economic development for the city.”
Tanya and Suhail Tlaib, however, aren’t quite convinced it’s as dreamy as it sounds.
They own Yafa Café, a restaurant that has occupied a corner storefront space in Theater Square for about seven years. They said the lease on their building, which is owned by Kindred, is valid for nearly four more years and they plan on staying for the duration of that time.
But the rendering for the new Kindred facility doesn’t show a space for Yafa Café,and Suhail Tlaib said he isn’t sure what is in store for his restaurant.
“We ask them what’s going on and what they’re going to do and nobody answers,” he said.
Fischer had an answer: “They will have to move.”
He said “obviously there is plenty of space around Fourth Street if they want to stay here.”
But Suhail Tlaib said it’s unlikely he will find another space along Fourth Street that suits his business plan.
Since his café doubles as a hookah lounge, outdoor seating is a must, he said. Yafa’s current location enables patrons to sit in a covered lounge along the street or a shaded patio in the square.
“We’ve been blessed,” Tanya Tlaib said. “We hope and pray for the best and whatever happens happens. We are not negative towards any of it. Hopefully, we have time to explain to our customers and let them know and hope and pray that we have somewhere else to take our customers.”
Larry Bisig, the chief executive officer of Bisig Impact Group, which is located adjacent to Theater Square, said he is confident the restaurants being forced out by the expansion will survive.
“Just not here,” he added.
Fischer has pushed economic development on Fourth Street. He said the 500 new Kindred employees will provide “a great opportunity” for new businesses to move near the Fourth Street corridor.
“This is exactly what any city in the world would want to have,” he said.
Kindred, which is in the process of buying Atlanta-based Gentiva Health Services, currently employs about 2,500 employees in Louisville. The company has more than 100,000 employees across the U.S., according to a news release.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Kindred for tax incentives of up to $11 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The incentive program allows a company to keep a portion of its investment through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets, according to the release.
The Louisville Clock
The Louisville Clock, also called the Derby Clock, currently located in Theater Square will have to move because of the expansion, Fischer said.
“We’ll find a new home for the clock,” he said.
Fischer said the clock is an “iconic piece of public art” and isn’t set to be scrapped.
He stressed the need to get the clock operational and said moving it to an indoor location may be best for the clock’s longevity.
“The clock has got to get working again,” he said.