The city of Fort Wayne plans to build a parking garage and acquire and prepare land for a $71-million project that will retain area jobs and help continue the revitalization of the downtown area by bringing a corporate headquarters there.
The city will invest $19.5 million, Ash Brokerage Corp. will invest $19.6 million in a new corporate headquarters and Hanning & Bean Enterprises will invest $32 million in a residential development.
They said Monday at a news conference in the Grand Wayne Convention Center downtown the project — bordered by Wayne, Harrison, Barry and Webster streets — probably would take about two years to complete, with construction starting next March.
“It’s going to be a different type of project for Fort Wayne,” said Bill Bean, vice president for Hanning & Bean.
“This project has the potential to be a game changer,” he said. “It will be a world-class project for downtown that will be an example for other projects like it.
“Go into any young, vibrant downtown area and this is the type of project you’ll see,” he said. “They’re doing this all over the country in those cities.”
The project will look like three buildings in one, with a four-story corporate headquarters and a 13-story residential development built atop a four-story parking garage.
About 21,600 square feet in the first floor of the parking garage will be used for retail space, and six street-front townhouses will be built into 13,500 square feet of its first two floors along Webster Street.
The building constructed by Hanning & Bean would include 26,000 square feet for 10 to 14 condominiums and 94,000 square feet for 80 apartments.
The Ash Brokerage building will include 95,000 square feet of office space, which will be occupied by about 220 employees who work at its main office at 7609 W. Jefferson.
Ash Brokerage, which was founded in the city more than 30 years ago, distributes annuity and life, disability and long-term care insurance products to more than 10,000 financial advisers in a given year.
During the last 10 years it has grown from about 100 employees and one location to a company with a nationwide work force of about 320 working in 15 locations.
Ash Brokerage expects its growth to continue and projects it will employ an additional 115 in Fort Wayne by 2017. It began working on plans for a new headquarters about 18 months ago.
Tim Ash, president and chief executive officer, said some of the other cities where Ash Brokerage has locations, including Detroit and Cincinnati, sought to attract its headquarters.
The company chose to invest in a downtown Fort Wayne partly because its roots are here and because it has been impressed with the success the city has had with previous downtown redevelopment projects.
The state plans to provide tax credit incentives for the project.
For more on this story, see Friday's issue of Business Weekly.