The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:58 am

Skyline garage opens

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

The city’s portion of the Ash Skyline Plaza is complete. 

With a snip of a ribbon Monday morning, Mayor Tom Henry opened the Ash Skyline parking garage to the public. Nearly two years after ground was broken on the $29 million Ash Brokerage corporate headquarters, Ash Brokerage is moving into its new space Friday, Ash Brokerage CEO Tim Ash said Monday. 

"Without this garage, none of this development would have been possible and it’s been about three years," Ash said. "I’ve asked all of you to recall what the site looked like before and look at it today. It’s about a partnership between the city and a partnership with our company and our community. I couldn’t be more thankful to be here right now."

The headquarters for the company, which employs more than 200 people, is currently at 7609 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Before construction could begin, six existing buildings were demolished and Cindy’s Diner was relocated to West Berry Street and Maiden Lane from its original spot at Wayne and Harrison streets. 

Along with 1,077 parking spaces, the new garage also features a bike hub connected to the Skyline YMCA. YMCA members will be able to have an assigned bike storage space for $10 a month, while nonmembers can receive one for $15 a month, said Nicole Hansen, the YMCA’s director of mission advancement.  

A bike commuter membership is also available for $25 a month and includes access to locker rooms and showers in addition to an assigned space. 

The bike hub and YMCA are already operational, said Greg Leatherman, the city’s director of Community Development. Other tenants at the complex include the Barnes & Thornburg law firm and the tax firm DuCharme, McMillen & Associates. The retail level is occupied by DeBrand’s Fine Chocolates, Lake City Bank, upscale boutique The Find and The Golden restaurant. 

"I think finishing of the interior spaces is going on with Ash and some of the tenants, certainly on the retail side," Leatherman said. "But for all intents and purposes, the garage itself is complete."

While the garage, office and retail spaces are essentially complete, there’s still work to be done on the Skyline Tower, a $44.2 million, 124-unit, 12-story residential tower that will be connected to the plaza’s garage. The tower is being developed by Great Lakes Capital of South Bend. That part of the development was delayed for more than a year after Fort Wayne developer Hanning & Bean pulled out of the project. The developer had reached an impasse with the city on the construction timeline, which would have cost Hanning & Bean thousands of dollars, Bill Bean, the firm’s vice president, said at the time. 

"(Great Lakes Capital) is still putting together the final pieces of the financing, there’s a major closing that still has yet to take place with all the banks, private equity, private loans, as well as new market tax credits," Leatherman said.

In April, northeast Indiana’s Regional Development Authority unanimously approved a $2.8 million grant from the region’s portion of funding from the Regional Cities Initiative, which the Great Lakes Capital has said is critical to the success of the project. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. still has to give the allocation its final approval, however.

Leatherman said Great Lakes Capital expects to break ground on the project next month, with construction beginning in July. The residential tower project is expected to take about two years to complete.


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