Makeover underway downtown
Metro Building gets new look
By Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette
A major inside-and-out makeover is starting to take shape at a prominent downtown building.
Plans for the exterior of the eight-story Metro Building at 202 W. Berry St., also known as the Fifth Third Metro Center, last week cleared the Downtown Design Review Committee.
Interior demolition permits were issued in February, and interior remodeling permits are expected to be approved within the next few days, Allen County Building Commissioner John Caywood said Wednesday.
The official actions underscore the presence of a huge piece of red construction equipment that has been towering over the site in recent weeks.
“The bulk of what is going on right now is really bringing this building up to today's standards,” said architect Ron Dick of Design Collaborative, which drew up plans for the exterior work.
The interior work is being done largely by Weigand Construction, Fort Wayne. A dollar amount remains to be released.
Dick said the building will be getting new elevators, new windows and new mechanical components, while the exterior will get a whole new look.
The structure's precast concrete facade will get a concrete coating for looks and longevity, Dick said. Also added will be decorative metal panels to break up the expanse of concrete, he said.
With a new, dark-gray color scheme, the exterior of the building will have a “more modern” appearance and blend better with the Ash Brokerage's new office building and residential Skyline Tower across the street, Dick said.
Ash Brokerage Chief Executive Officer Tim Ash and other investors, known as the Ashberry Eight LLC, Fort Wayne, now own the Metro Building, having purchased it from Bill Bean, a local investor.
Plans submitted to the committee show a widened sidewalk that suggests use as patio space for restaurant or retail businesses.
The sidewalk runs along the south and east sides of the building, wrapping around the intersection of West Berry and Harrison streets.
Few details have emerged as to the building's interior use – although renderings submitted to the design review committee have been labeled “condominiums,” suggesting at least some residential use.
Dick said interior details are yet to be released because financing is still being arranged and it may influence the owners' choices.
Dick added that the construction tower at the site may look like a crane, but is actually an elevator, used for ferrying demolition debris to the ground.
“As you can imagine, there's quite a lot of debris generated by a project of this size,” he said.