Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 21, 2014

New owner taking over South Bend's tallest tower

SOUTH BEND (AP) — Repairs to resolve a growing list of troubles with South Bend's tallest building could soon be starting now that it is emerging from more than three years in receivership.

New York-based Washington Square Realty bought the 25-story Chase Tower at a sheriff's sale on Thursday for $4.5 million.

The downtown building has faced problems such as balky elevators and an outdated heating and cooling system, along with stone falling from its facade and crumbling concrete that's exposing rusty steel rebar in the parking garage, the South Bend Tribune reported. The tower houses a hotel and offices, but is about half empty.

Andrew Nemeth, a real estate broker and consultant who will manage Chase Tower, said he couldn't disclose how much Washington Square planned to spend on the building but that the new owners were committed to the task.

"First order of business, I expect will be, addressing the elevators and the parking garage. I know that we're working on bids for all those items," Nemeth told WNDU-TV.

Michael Hardy, a lawyer for the court-appointed receiver, said a court motion would be filed within days to end the receivership. Washington Square bought the $7.5 million debt attached to Chase Tower's bank note a year ago.

The building went to the St. Joseph County sheriff's sale after a developer's plan to buy and overhaul the building fell through.

Nemeth, who has offices in the tower, said he was looking forward to the renovation work.

"Myself with all the other tenants, we've been putting up with a lot of heartache and problems and issues but I think that before too long here we can turn things around and be happy about it again," he said.

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