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New project shows Ash Brokerage head not done improving downtown

September 3rd, 2016

By Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel 

The gleaming Ash Skyline Plaza opened in June as the anchor of a $98 million office, retail, residential and parking complex. But Ash Brokerage CEO Tim Ash apparently isn't done reshaping downtown.

A group headed by Ash this week bought the adjacent Fifth Third Metro Center from developer Bill Bean and plans to redevelop the eight-story office building at Berry and Harrison streets, according to Tony Brita, spokesman for the new owners. What that redevelopment might look like will be determined in part by incentives and grants available, Brita said, but he acknowledged speculation the building could be reconfigured to include residential and commercial spaces and possibly an elevated walkway to the Ash building across the street. Some tenants have said they are already looking for new offices.

"One reason I sold was (Ash) has a vision to raise the building to a completely new level," said Bean, who had planned to erect a $30 million residential tower next to Ash's building before withdrawing in 2014 because of delays he said had inflated his costs. The city earlier this year selected Great Lakes Capital to build a redesigned residential tower on the site.

Bill Brown, president of the Downtown Improvement District, said the transaction could be good news for downtown, where studies have indicated a demand for more housing.

"Any real estate with a view is ideal for residential and adaptive reuse," Brown said. "It's almost like our lakefront — a rare commodity."