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Ash names plan Emerald Skyline

It’s been called iconic, enormous and a game-changer.

On Monday, the $71 million mixed-used development with Ash Brokerage as its centerpiece was unveiled as Emerald Skyline.

Officials of the planned 16-story building appealed to the Fort Wayne Plan Commission during a public hearing, which had no dissenters.

There was some concern, however, by commission members about whether the buildings in the project would result in excessive signage, the elimination of street lanes and whether its green space park would be open to the public.

The answers to the first two questions were no. As for public access, that would be determined in the months ahead, said Tom Niezer, one of the attorneys on the development, first announced in September.

Niezer said the park area is primarily for Ash Brokerage employees and residents at the Skyline Terrace, the residential part of the project.

Ash Brokerage plans a 65,000-square-foot, $28 million headquarters on the block bordered by Harrison, Wayne, Webster and Berry streets in downtown. The company will move its 200 employees to the new building and add 115 more over the next few years.

The project also includes a $32 million residential package of at least 100 townhomes, luxury apartments and condominiums by Hanning & Bean Enterprises. Both projects will sit on top of a city-owned 780-space parking garage, which will be surrounded by street-level retail. In December, Lake City Bank announced it will take 4,000 of the 20,000 square feet of retail space available.

The project was nearly two years in the making. Construction is expected to begin in April.

Ash Brokerage offers wholesale distribution of life insurance, annuities, long-term care and disability income insurance. Leaders at the company have said they are experiencing substantial growth and selected downtown for an expansion. The company’s present location is 7609 W. Jefferson Blvd.

If approved – which is likely – the city would provide a $19.5 million incentive package to the development that consists of land acquisition, site preparation, tax abatement and participation in the construction and operation of the parking garage.

State officials also would contribute another $10 million in performance-based incentives.

The Fort Wayne Plan Commission will vote on the project Feb. 17