All Around Downtown: Southwest quadrant making big news
By Chris Darby | WANE
The southwest quadrant of downtown Fort Wayne has been making headlines frequently so far in 2017.
Updates have been shared by city leaders on several pending projects, some just within the past few days.
GENERAL ELECTRIC CAMPUS
“This is yet another example of the northeast quadrant of our state, a real engine of our state’s economy, doing things the right way,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said about the $300 million investment coming to the empty buildings and lots at the G.E. campus.
That big piece of land sits out of the Downtown Improvement District’s limits, but connects south-side neighborhoods to downtown.
“When GE thrived, these neighborhoods thrived,” City Councilman Geoff Paddock said. “We think that can happen again.”
The property was bought by a Baltimore-based developer who is planning on turning the 31-acre campus into a “city within a city,” complete with places to live, shop, dine, study and gather to celebrate a new take on an old landmark.
DOWNTOWN EVENT CENTER
“The arena sounds exciting,” Fort Wayne resident Julie Butts said. “I know where it’s going to go, but I can’t visualize it yet. It seems like a big amount of property.”
That property, surrounded by Washington Blvd., Jefferson Blvd., Ewing St. and Webster St. could become home to the Downtown Event Center.
New details on the project were released just days ago. Designs were unveiled, along with an updated price tag of $105 million.
While it may be the most questioned project in the works downtown, city leaders still vouch for it.
“I strongly believe this project will be a great addition to Fort Wayne, to Allen County and to northeast Indiana,” Mayor Tom Henry said in his annual “State of the City” address.
Much of the credit for downtown development goes to the construction of Parkview Field in 2009.
Now, 8 years later, proof of the ballpark effect stands across the street.
“Cityscape Flats. That will start to get occupancy this year,” Bill Brown from the Downtown Improvement District added. “That’s a wonderful development.”
Cityscape sits on a block that was home to several run-down houses. It now features apartments for rent and townhouses for sale.
“There wasn’t very many people walking around downtown, and now every day, especially since the Ash building went up, you see a lot of people walking around, especially younger people now, which is really good to see,” Adam Hand from Beckman Lawson, Llp. said.
Ash Brokerage’s Skyline Plaza has been a big contribution to the area and is often an example of private investment with a big public effect. The building features restaurants, shops and a workouts facility under the Ash offices.
Around the corner from the Skyline Plaza, the Skyline Tower is going up.
When it’s done, it will provide more residential options, as well as commercial space. Ruth’s Chris steakhouse already signed on to the project.
“I’m looking forward to the steakhouse going in, just to have something a little different from what we have, a little more of that big city feel,” Fort Wayne resident Kris Church added.
Something that tends to come with the big city feel is innovation, new ideas.
The Atrium is not only a new concept for downtown, but it provides space for entrepreneurs to create.
A block away, City Exchange Shops gives those entrepreneurs a place to sell their products and connect with customers.
“There’s a lot more places to walk,” Hand added. “We used to get in the car and drive to Jefferson Pointe or up north. We don’t have to do that so much anymore.”
He’s not alone. It seems the amount of people walking around keeps growing. It’s a change you can not only notice, but feel, all around downtown.