Living on the Riverfront: A glimpse inside the culture developing at Superior Lofts
By William Bryant Rozier | Input Fort Wayne
When Superior Lofts Apartments opened in November 2018 at 102 West Superior St., it arrived after Skyline Tower apartments in the Ash Brokerage building and Cityscape Flats across the street from the TinCaps at Parkview Field.
It also became one of the most affordable new living options in downtown Fort Wayne.
Originally built in 1904 as a factory for the Fort Wayne Box Company, Superior Lofts was converted into a 72-unit apartment complex in 2018. The new space is only about five months old, so 55 units are still available to rent.
Its current 45 tenants, however, are in a unique position. They can observe the Riverfront developing in real time, as Promenade Park undergoes construction around the corner from the building and is months away from opening in June.
As the area evolves, Input Fort Wayne asked four Superior Lofts tenants what it’s like to be living at a new space in the center of the action.
Brad Hartman and Derek Lamle
When Brad Hartman, Director of Ash Analytics at Ash Brokerage, travels to New York City for business, he steps off the subway, joins the crowd, and is welcomed by the obvious diversity of the city around him, he says.
As someone from Liberty, Indiana (the second smallest county in the state), it’s an experience that he notices and connects with.
Hartman says he gets a similar feeling living at Superior Lofts, referencing the diverse group of fellow tenants of all races and age groups who are calling the apartment complex home.
He and his roommate, Derek Lamle, were two of the first residents to move into Superior Lofts back in November 2018. They chose the same apartment they were shown during the open house, on the sunset side of the building overlooking Promenade Park.
While the space promises to soon offer highly coveted views of Riverfront, construction wakes up the roommates on Saturday mornings these days. But it’s all worth it, Hartman says.
“It’s a good thing to be woken up to,” he explains.
For Lamle, the idea of watching, in real time, the transformation of the Riverfront and the city, by extension, was the main attraction for choosing Superior Lofts.
Both men also noted the added benefit of walking to work. Lamle, an Auditor at the accounting and consulting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller in the Metro Building, grew up on a farm in the Columbia City area.
“I wanted to live someplace more exciting,” he says.
Brooke Ridley, 24, really wanted to follow her college friends and move out of Fort Wayne after graduation, but the lure of what the downtown area was becoming, including other city projects like Electric Works, was enough to change her mind.
Plus, as she describes herself, “I’m not really a big city person.”
Ridley earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Saint Francis and her MBA at Indiana Tech; both are smaller, more intimate higher education institutions in the Fort Wayne area. Big cities like Miami and, definitely, Chicago loomed too large for permanent stay when she traveled.
On her wish list for a destination city, Ridley says she craved activities, especially in the summer. She lucked out when she moved into Superior Lofts because she wasn’t actively looking for a spot around the corner from the future Riverfront, which promises to offer everything from hiking to kayaking.
She also wasn’t trying to make life easier by finding a home within walking distance from her job at Lincoln Financial.
“But I will take advantage of it,” she says, noting how the weather’s been too cold for extended strolling in the winter since she moved in.
Ridley previously lived on the Southwest side of town by Jefferson Pointe mall; her biggest inconvenience now, she says, is the lack of a downtown grocery store. But she has options in multiple, drivable directions, so it isn’t too much of a disruption, she says.
Greg McNabb and his wife, Anastasia, looked at multiple living spaces downtown before choosing their apartment at Superior Lofts. They gravitated toward the space because of how the former box factory was repurposed with some of its 100-year-old character still intact, like its high ceilings, exposed pipes, and mushroom pillars inside.
The McNabbs moved into their apartment from the only house they ever owned in Fort Wayne’s Arlington Park neighborhood where they raised their two sons. Their children are grown now, living in California.
“Arlington Park was an absolutely fabulous place to raise a family,” Greg, 53, says. “But there was so much more activity on the week days (downtown) than we realized.”
He remembers when downtown Fort Wayne resembled a ghost town. On his way to Indiana University Bloomington for his freshman year in 1984, he vowed never to come back because of the city’s apparent lack of promise. He lived in California for a while after college where he met Anastasia.
Since moving home in 1994, however, Greg has only ever worked downtown. Now, living at Superior Lofts, he’s less than a five-minute walk from the Lincoln Tower, where he works at Old National Bank.
He and Anastasia are looking forward to the Riverfront and inviting friends over to see the widescreen view outside of their apartment windows.