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Providence Hill to offer luxury housing, retail

ASHLAND, Ky. - Just across the river in Ashland, construction is underway on a new $40 million housing and retail development unlike any the area has seen.

"Providence Hill" will feature 216 upscale apartments, an eight-story high-rise condominium complex with about 50 condos within. The residence areas will feature a lake, fitness area and other conveniences.

Those lucky enough to snag an address on Providence Hill will also have the convenience of a 50,000 square foot shopping center right at their doorstep. At least one retailer, drugstore Walgreens, has already shown interest.

The entrance to the complex will be just across U.S. 23 from the new Super Wal-Mart being developed in Ashland.

Fred Burns and Associates is the company responsible for "Providence Hill." Fred Burns and brother Frank, the company's chief financial officer, were raised in Ashland, and the two still have a sister living in Ironton.

But another type of sister is actually responsible for the development's title, a tip of the hat to the Sisters of Divine Providence, who educated the boys at Holy Family School in Ashland.

It's an impressive hometown investment from a couple of local boys who made good, but it's also a bit risky, as Ashland, and the Tri-State in general, is not an area known for its luxurious upscale housing.

Frank Burns said that while the market research indicates that the area is ready for "Providence Hill," Burns said he's putting more faith in his brother's gut than the numbers.

"Sometimes when you're an entrepreneur there are instincts that start kicking in, there are certain things you know that will make a project successful. He's done it six times previously, and a lot of it is instinct," Frank Burns said.

"It's alright to do market research, but you've got to be careful because those people who crunch numbers can be way off."

By all early indications, it would seem that Fred Burns' intuition was right on the money with Providence Hill.

Frank Burns said that even though the completion of the condos is still years away, they've already had about 15 potential tenants show an interest. Just last week, Burns received two calls from people asking to be put on the list.

Crews are currently on-site, excavating and leveling the land in preparation for construction. Burns said he believes work on "Providence Hill" will be completed in two to three years, with the apartments the first phase of the plan.