Kindred Healthcare opens new downtown building with no mention of pending sale

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Kindred Healthcare executives celebrated the completion of a $40 million, six-story downtown office building on Thursday while avoiding any mention of the pending sale of the company.

The building, which is connected to Kindred’s longer-standing headquarters at 680 S. Fourth Street, is built for the long term with plush finishes, a high-tech theatre, a game room and an urgent care clinic.

There is even an extra floor – the sixth, which remains unfinished – in case the company needs more space down the road.

But Kindred’s future is complicated by a planned sale announced Dec. 19 in which Kindred will broken up into a pair of privately held entities.

The roughly $780 million deal, projected to close later this year, will result in two private equity firms owning Kindred’s hospital division, while Louisville-based Humana Inc. will eventually own all of Kindred at Home, the division that provides in-home care for elderly patients.

Kindred CEO Ben Breier didn’t mention the deal during remarks at a ceremony attended by city officials and hundreds of employees.

“We are proud and prideful and pleased to be a part of not only the resurgence of the downtown area here in Louisville, but also the region’s growing health and aging service sector,” Breier told the crowd.

Breier was too busy to speak with the media following the ceremony, Kindred spokeswoman Susan Moss said.

Breier led Mayor Greg Fischer, Greater Louisville Inc. President Kent Oyler and other officials on a tour while other Kindred officials showed the media around the new building.

The new space allows Kindred to stop renting auxiliary office space downtown and consolidate all 1,200 of its corporate employees in Louisville into the South Fourth Street campus, officials said. That excludes a recently built call center that employs about 100, Moss said.

When the deal was announced last month, Breier told reporters not to expect changes to Kindred’s employee base. Kindred at Home, the company that will eventually be owned by Humana, is almost entirely based in Atlanta, the location of the former Gentiva Health Services, which Kindred bought in 2015, executives said.

Moss and Steve Cunanan, Kindred’s chief administrative and people officer, reiterated the “business as usual” message on Thursday and were unable to answer more specific questions about the aftermath of the sale.

Moss said the company will release more details in a forthcoming regulatory filing.

Building design encourages employee interactions

The building’s first floor feels like a hotel lobby with lots a places for employees to sit and chat.

On the upper floors, offices are clustered in the interior to let in more natural light, with most workers in cubicles.

There are central trash cans and printers – but none in individual workspaces – to encourage “water cooler” interactions and collaborations.

In addition to conference rooms, there are phone booth-like nooks where employees can make private calls or have one-on-one meetings.

The building also boasts a healthcare clinic open only to employees for things like monitoring blood pressure and dealing with colds or the flu.

Cunanan said the hope is that the clinic is convenient for employees and leads to savings for Kindred, which funds its own health insurance benefits.

The portion of the first floor that faces Fourth Street will soon have a BBC brew pub, which Cunanan said is about two months from opening. There are other retails spaces for which no tenants have been announced, he said.

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Chris Otts reports for about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and