Developer backs out on building Fort Wayne tower

(WANE Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The company that had been contracted to build residential units as part of a multi-million dollar downtown development project won’t be involved after all, Fort Wayne city officials announced at a Thursday morning news conference.

Hanning & Bean had pledged to spend $30 million on the residential component of the development project which also includes Ash Brokerage’s new corporate headquarters known as Ash Skyline Plaza and a parking garage. Hanning & Bean’s commitment, known as Skyline Terrace, was to include 80 apartments, 10-14 condos, and six street-front townhouses in the 17 story tall building. There was also going to be retail space on the first floor. There was no indication given as to why Hanning & Bean pulled out. According to the terms of the project, the company is free to leave at any time.

Mayor Tom Henry and an attorney for the city said they didn’t don’t know why Hanning and Bean came to the decision but they did say that the residential developer chose to move on to a different project.

Thursday morning Bill Bean, VP of Hanning & Bean Enterprises, said the project was taking longer than the city and Ash Brokerage had originally planned. Bean said it was a difficult decision to make, but he ultimately chose not to remain involved.

Sources involved with economic development say their offices are hearing Bean is interested in buying One Summit Square which is currently for sale. Bean would not confirm that information over the phone.

City officials and Ash Brokerage are now looking to find another developer to replace Hanning & Bean, and said that several have already approached them about the project.

“Sometimes a partner moving on to a different project ultimately is the best thing that could happen to a project,” said Henry. “The fact that so many developers immediately surfaced I think speaks volumes about the city of Fort Wayne. People want to invest here, they want to bring jobs here, they want to create more housing downtown which right now is very limited because people want to live downtown, work downtown ,and play downtown.”

The parking garage and the Ash Skyline Plaza are still slated to developed as planned. Work on the 1,200 space parking garage is already underway with construction of Ash Skyline Plaza set to begin in April, 2015 with most of the building construction being completed by March of 2016. The development will be in the area bordered by Wayne, Harrison, Berry and Webster streets and will take up nearly a full square block.

The project was first announced in September of 2013 and development agreements were signed back in May of this year. Fort Wayne is investing $39 million in the project which is being paid for from a combination of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, Legacy Funds and money from the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board. Property taxes are not being used for the project.

Ash Brokerage is expected to employ more than 200 people as part of its move to downtown from space it has outgrown located on West Jefferson Boulevard south of Engle Road in southwest Fort Wayne.

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