Hamilton County / Regional News

Songbook Foundation hires international firm to market Asherwood Estate

March 8, 2019

Asherwood Estate, the former home of shopping mall magnate Melvin and philanthropist Bren Simon, is on the market.

The Great American Songbook Foundation, which was gifted the sprawling Carmel estate in 2017 by Bren Simon, has hired a global real estate firm to market the property. Toronto-based Avison Young has launched an international communications campaign that includes a website and social media accounts aimed at a broad spectrum of potential buyers for the 107-acre estate.

The estate was built in 1999 by Mel Simon, the co-founder of Indianapolis-based mall giant Simon Property Group, who died in 2009. The property at 10110 Ditch Road includes a furnished 51,000-square-foot main house, an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, a 6,000-square-foot guesthouse, several other structures and two golf courses.

A gift to the Songbook Foundation, which is headquartered at the Center for the Performing Arts, the house is valued at $30 million.

In October, the foundation announced it planned to sell the estate to raise funds to build a freestanding museum and permanent home for its vast collection of memorabilia, sheet music, recordings and artists’ personal items.

Originally, Songbook officials said the estate could hold promise as a site for the museum, but concerns emerged over how the organization would keep up with expenses associated with maintaining the massive property. They spent 2018 evaluating best uses for the property.

Avison Young executives say Asherwood holds enormous potential for a range of residential, commercial or not-for-profit uses. 

“Our Avison Young team is honored to be selected as the agents representing the Songbook Foundation in the marketing of the Asherwood estate and its related real property assets,” Bill Ehret, managing director with Avison Young, said in written comments. “The quality, uniqueness and complexity of this assignment required the assembly of a global team. Our goal is simple: maximize the value and enable the Songbook Foundation to advance its mission.”

Ehret was a longtime commercial real estate executive in Indianapolis before opening Avison Young's local office in 2015.

Chris Lewis, the foundation’s executive director, said Avison Young most effectively demonstrated the capacity to handle the marketing of such a large and distinctive property. A news release did not indicate how many firms the foundation considered or an asking price for the property.

Before deciding to donate the property, Bren Simon put the estate on the market in 2014 with an asking price of $25 million. It never sold.

“We’re confident that Avison Young has the resources and expertise to maximize the value of Mrs. Simon’s incredibly generous gift,” Lewis said in written comments. “We anticipate a great deal of interest, and we will review those offers with an eye toward not only the purchase price but also the compatibility of the buyer’s intent with the interests of the neighboring property owners and the broader community.”

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