Downtown development group purchases Sunny Schick building
By Bridgett Hernandez | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
The Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust has purchased the former Sunny Schick Camera Shop.
Former owner Bill Christie announced his plans to retire and close the shop on June 19 after having been in business for 90 years.
The trust that acquired the property made the Ash Skyline Plaza development possible and is currently involved in redeveloping the Landing.
The trust purchased the Sunny Schick property for $225,000 with a sale date of April 25, according to Allen County GIS data. The building is one of seven downtown properties that the trust has acquired, according to Allen County GIS data. The others include the old Smurfit building on the corner of Harrison and Superior streets near the Superior Lofts development and five properties on the Landing acquired between 2014 and 2016.
The trust has a 10-member board including the deputy mayor and business leaders in the community, and is staffed by Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
It’s not clear what the trust has in store for the brick building on the corner of West Washington Boulevard and Ewing Street. The property is across the street from the proposed downtown arena/event center. However, the trust has not been involved in the arena discussion, said John Urbahns, executive vice president of economic development for GFW Inc.
The trust was formed after a community visit to Chattanooga where the River City Corp. was founded by foundations and others in the community through private dollars to work on redevelopment, Urbahns said. The River City Corp. served as a model for the Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust, said Bill Brown, president of the Downtown Improvement District.
“The downtown improvement district, along with what was the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, wanted to put together an economic development tool that would really work to advance the goals of the downtown Fort Wayne Blueprint, the Plan-it Allen! comprehensive plan and future urban revitalization by facilitating real estate acquisition, redevelopment, rehabilitation and/or construction,” he said.
Site control is key for moving development in a positive direction, Brown said.
The trust is funded through the Fort Wayne Community Foundation, Legacy funds, federal money and private dollars, Urbahns said.
The trust acts as a tool to help implement the “Downtown Blueprint,” the downtown plan adopted by city council that outlines a number of projects, priorities and strategies, he said.
“Having the trust involved has allowed us the opportunity to go and use some private funds through the community foundation we’re able to leverage some of the Legacy dollars to support the acquisition of property,” Urbahns said.
To that end, the trust has allowed properties to be acquired more quietly through private transactions than through acts of the Redevelopment Commission or the city of Fort Wayne for example, he added.
Right now, the trust is in the process of finalizing the deal with the Model Group on the redevelopment of the Landing, Urbahns said. The Model Group is working to finalize all the financing pieces with the hopes of being under construction in October.