Regional Advantages

Renowned for its location, business climate and affordable cost of living, Northeast Indiana is consistently ranked best in the Midwest.

Industry Information

With access to 40,000 graduating students annually, join the impressive list of major employers leading Northeast Indiana’s top industries.

Business Leadership

Increasing personal income, growing the population and raising educational attainment. Join us!

About Living Here

Northeast Indiana is family-friendly, affordable and offers diverse opportunities to make it your own in Northeast Indiana.

Jobs & Internships

Join Northeast Indiana, a growing, vibrant community. From your next career to your next promotion, make it your own in Northeast Indiana.

Fort Wayne’s District of Columbia: The Landing nears a rebirth

February 25th, 2016


News Coverage:

February 25, 2016

Fort Wayne’s District of Columbia: The Landing nears a rebirth

Resurrecting The Landing along Fort Wayne's Columbia Street took 'convincing, arm twisting, cajoling'

WANE

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) It was once the most important street in Fort Wayne. Now Columbia Street, and the collection of buildings and parking lots known as The Landing, will soon be reborn.

For the last three years, the City of Fort Wayne, Downtown Development Trust and Greater Fort Wayne Inc., have been working collectively to procure grants, solicit funds and purchase land and buildings along Columbia Street. The Downtown Development trust spent nearly 3 million dollars acquiring 7 buildings and two parking lots along the block.

Columbia Street (Photo courtesy The History Center)
Columbia Street (Photo courtesy The History Center)

But getting the previous owners to go along with the idea wasn’t easy. It took a great deal of “convincing, arm twisting, cajoling and calling people to their civic duty” said Mac Parker, President of the Downtown Development Trust.

It has a been a long journey that could start to become reality in the Fall and be nearly complete with stores, residences and restaurants by 2018.

“I’ve been in Fort Wayne all my life. I haven’t seen this kind of excitement in decades,” said Mayor Tom Henry.

The Landing and Fort Wayne have a long history.

The Wabash and Erie canal ran behind the structures and along the same path as the current elevated railroad. For 60 years, nearly all the goods and merchandise that either entered or left Fort Wayne made their way through The Landing. Canal boats would arrive and depart daily.

Columbia Street (Photo courtesy The History Center)
Columbia Street (Photo courtesy The History Center)

All the commerce led to government buildings, hotels and banks springing up nearby.

But eventually the energy shifted away from Columbia Street, and the area found itself in disrepair.

Then in the 1970’s the street had a renaissance and a change of purpose. Joan White, wife of prominent businessman Ed White, purchased five of the buildings along the street. Several restaurants and clubs opened, two of the most prominent The Dill Pickle and The Big Wheel.

According to Mac Parker, Columbia Street was the place to be at the time. That phase in the street’s history lasted about 20 years.

In this 1857 photo, Etna along the Wabash and Erie Canal in Fort Wayne is shown. (Photo courtesy The History Center)
In this 1857 photo, Etna along the Wabash and Erie Canal in Fort Wayne is shown. (Photo courtesy The History Center)

Now the latest and most ambitious effort is underway to revitalize The Landing.

“What I envision on the landing is a collection of business offerings, of hospitality offerings, that can compliment one another. Whether it’s restaurants or cafes or WIFI bars or whatever, all of that can come together,” said Henry.

Currently there is a lot of space to fill. In all, the buildings house more than 40,000 square feet. Some of the space will be filled with near market price and market price apartments. It will also be filled with restaurants, bars and businesses.

The decision on the exact formula of residential versus commercial is something the city farmed out to The Model Group, a development company from Cincinnati. The organization had great success with a much bigger and intricate development of a dilapidated neighborhood there called Over The Rhine.

On Thursday on Newschannel 15’s News at 6, we will take you to Cincinnati to show you how some of those successful plans will be used in Fort Wayne. Don’t miss Part 2 of this special report, District of Columbia.


Categories