Arts United picks consultants for arts master plan

October 21st, 2016

By Bob Caylor | News-Sentinel

Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne has hired local and national consultants to guide planning and design into next year on a plan to renovate Arts United Center and improve the visibility and accessibility of downtown Fort Wayne's arts campus.

The cost of executing the plan won’t be clear until the planning and design are finished next year, but Susan Mendenhall, Arts United president, told the Allen County Capital Improvement Board on Thursday morning that even a bare-bones renovation of Arts United Center would cost $6 million.

Doug Wood, chairman of the Arts United board, told the board a broader plan could cost $15-20 million. In a later interview, Mendenhall emphasized that guesses on the cost of a full project, including an expansion of Arts United Center, are premature and unreliable before planning begins.

The consultants she announced are:

  • Architect Paul Westlake, of Westlake Reed Leskosky in Cleveland
  • Architect Zach Benedict, of MKM architecture + design in Fort Wayne
  • Halsey and Alice North of The North Group, a fundraising and planning consultant based in New York
  • A marketing contractor will be selected, too, probably by the end of the year, Mendenhall said.

Arts United works to develop, coordinate and support arts and cultural organizations and programs in northeast Indiana.

At a minimum, the plan should include updating elements of the Arts United Center, which is more than 40 years old. Mendenhall said in an interview that includes replacing windows, roof, theatrical technology that’s long outdated, and old heating and air conditioning equipment. The building was completed many years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and a renovation would make it much more accessible, she said.

Arts United also would like to improve the arts campus connections for vehicles and pedestrians to The Landing, the riverfront development and other areas. A trail extending from Columbia Avenue west across the confluence of the three rivers, through the arts campus and into The Landing is another possibility, she suggested.

She told members of the Capital Improvement Board that she expects planning and design work to begin next month and continue through June, with designs and cost estimates to be revealed in July. Fundraising would begin after that.

Categories Quality of Life