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$70 million Ash HQ complex a go

16-story plan starts in spring

A more than $70 million project that will forever change Fort Wayne’s landscape can proceed.

The city Plan Commission on Monday approved Emerald Skyline, a 16-story mixed-used development with Ash Brokerage at its center.

During a public hearing last week, commission members raised a few concerns about excessive signage and the elimination of street lanes. Those issues would not become problems, the developers said.

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

The company’s present location is 7609 W. Jefferson Blvd. Ash Brokerage offers wholesale distribution of life insurance, annuities, long-term care and disability income insurance. The firm said it is experiencing substantial growth, which led to the expansion decision.

Emerald Skyline also includes a $32 million residential package of at least 100 luxury apartments, townhouses 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.

The development has already resulted in Lake City Bank planning to occupy 4,000 square feet of retail space. Emerald Skyline was nearly two years in the making. Construction is expected to begin in April.

The city will 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 will contribute $10 million in performance-based incentives.

Do it Best wins OK

Connolly’s Do it Best, 1203 W. State Blvd., will relocate to what management hopes is a more convenient site.

The Fort Wayne Plan Commission approved a more than $1 million project that has the hardware cooperative refurbishing a 6,100-square-foot building and adding an additional 3,000 square feet in the Wells Street Corridor.

Co-owner John Connolly expects to complete the move by October.

“We’ve always liked that area of Fort Wayne and the location used to be home to a hardware store,” he said. “We hope it will just be more convenient for our customers.”

The new store will rise on the east side of the 1600 block of Wells Street. Connolly’s has other retail locations at 5221 Calhoun St., 515 E. Dupont Road and 10301 Illinois Road.