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Ashley Furniture picks Centro Ybor for its U.S. e-commerce headquarters

Ashley Furniture project manager Aaron Gillespie, left, shows off plans for the new Ashley office space in Centro Ybor to Mel Sembler on Thursday. The site, at 1600 E Eighth Ave., is in the heart of Tampa’s historic business and entertainment district.
Published May 22, 2015

TAMPA — Ybor City is well-known for its late-night entertainment. But in recent years it has started to move beyond that, attracting hotels and tech firms.

The latest — and most prominent — business to put down roots there is Ashley Furniture, which announced Thursday that its subsidiary, Ashcomm LLC, will build its e-commerce headquarters in the historic district.

"We find ourselves coming full circle for the next chapter of not just this project, but of Ybor City," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said at a news conference.

Ashley, which has a distribution center in Brandon, considered locations in six states before settling on the Centro Ybor shopping center in Ybor City.

The 70,000-square-foot space in Centro Ybor will house more than 100 employees, some relocated and some newly hired. They'll fill executive, administrative, marketing, design and information technology positions. Some of the space that the company is leasing and renovating was occupied by the Muvico Centro Ybor 20 movie theater.

Thousands more Ashley employees will visit the Centro Ybor office for training and meetings — which means they'll also patronize other Ybor City businesses, said Ashley Furniture Industries founder and chairman Ron Wanek, who lives in St. Petersburg.

The launch of the new office was delayed for construction, but employees are expected to move in by the end of the year.

"This is a time of strong growth for Ashley Furniture, and we're proud to partner with the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Ybor City business community to build our future in this exciting and historic location," said Ashley CEO Todd Wanek, who is the founder's son.

Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. CEO Rick Homans said Ashley Furniture's decision to settle in Ybor City is an endorsement of the area's potential as a business center.

"What this announcement delivers beyond the jobs and the capital investment, which we all love, is a very important message," Homans said. "It says we have the talent and we attract the talent to form a global e-commerce company."

The company will receive $320,000 in taxpayer incentives over the next four years. The city and county will provide $64,000 of that, and the rest — $256,000 — will come from the state.

Contact Emily McConville at emmcconville@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3375. Follow @emcconville.

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