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By the numbers
Some details of the $71 million, 17-story
Ash Brokerage project include:
200,000: Total square footage
95,000: Ash Brokerage headquarters square footage
$32 million: Townhouses, apartments and condos
$19.6 million: Ash headquarters
$11.7 million: Parking garage
$4.3 million: Property costs
$2.7 million: Site preparation

Lake City Bank first tenant in Ash Brokerage project

Findlay

If downtown Fort Wayne is the place to be, consider this Lake City Bank’s RSVP.

The Warsaw bank will become an anchor tenant in the retail portion of Ash Brokerage’s headquarters development. And it will lend $20 million to Ash for its portion of the $71 million project announced in September.

Lake City officials will announce the commitments Monday. This will be the bank’s fifth local branch.

David Findlay, the bank’s president and chief financial officer, said the bank will lease 4,000 square feet of the project’s 20,000-square-foot retail total.

“It’s a reflection of what we believe is the great rebirth of downtown Fort Wayne,” Findlay told The Journal Gazette on Friday.

Plans are preliminary, but branches of that size typically employ about 10 and cost $500,000 to $700,000 in equipment and furniture, he said.

The construction timeline is in flux, but Lake City officials hope to open the downtown branch late next year or in early 2015. Ash’s headquarters is expected to open in September 2015.

The downtown development will consist of the new Ash Brokerage headquarters; apartments and condos built by investment firm Hanning and Bean Enterprises Inc.; and a parking garage paid for by the city. The block is bordered by Harrison, Wayne, Webster and Berry streets.

Lake City invested $3.5 million in 2006 to build a 12,000-square-foot Fort Wayne banking hub on West Jefferson Boulevard across from Covington Plaza. That location, which employs about 25, will continue its robust operation, Findlay said.

“We have simply run out of space as our staff has grown,” he said.

The bank, which specializes in business loans, has seen increased demand from customers. That reflects stronger customer sales and increasing capital investment. About 95 percent of Lake City’s $2.3 billion loan portfolio is in commercial – or business – loans.

Lake City’s best measure of the economy is its loan portfolio, which has grown by almost $140 million in the past nine months, Findlay said.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve seen a strengthening in the northeast Indiana market,” he said.

By lending $20 million to Ash Brokerage, Lake City will generate interest income that will help pay interest on deposits, bank expenses including salaries, and become profits for shareholders.

The borrower also benefits from the deal, Tim Ash said.

The president and CEO of Ash Brokerage said his 320-employee firm has a long-standing relationship with Lake City Bank.

Although numerous lenders were competing to land the headquarters deal, Ash said his company chose Lake City for three significant reasons: ease of doing business with the bank, competitive pricing and flexible terms.

With that decision behind him, Ash is now fielding phone calls from restaurateurs and retailers near and far who are interested in becoming Lake City’s neighbor in the new development. No other leases have yet been signed, he said.

Findlay is pleased to be leading the pack. Bank officials are celebrating both announcements – the loan and the location – as significant wins.

Opening the downtown branch is as important to growing Lake City’s local presence as making loans is, Findlay said. The new location will help the bank generate the deposits it needs in order to make large business loans.

“For every $20 million loan we make,” Findlay said, “we need to take in $20 million in deposits to fund it.”

sslater@jg.net

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