City committed to environmentally sensitive removal of structures, working with neighborhood to identify potential uses of key southeast parcel

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry joined City staff, the contractor and partner agencies to mark the beginning of demolition at McMillen Park Apartments at 4209 Plaza Drive adjacent to McKinney Avenue and Anthony Boulevard, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to community development in southeast Fort Wayne and throughout Indiana’s second-largest city.

Almost all of the structures in the first of five zones of demolition on this 23-acre property have been removed. The rest are expected to come down later this summer. The City’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services has started and will continue a dialogue with neighbors and other southeast stakeholders to develop ideas for future uses of this land.

 “The purchase and demolition of this land came at an ideal time because of the availability of federal funding and the City’s commitment to foster growth and development in southeast Fort Wayne,” Mayor Henry said. “This could be an ideal location for commercial development, new housing or a mix of the two, but we are going to let the market and neighborhoods drive this conversation.”

The City is having the post-World War II apartments removed in a way to minimize the amount of waste and debris that enters local landfills. This “reduce, reuse, recycle” strategy will be used in the remaining demolition in the project.

Feuser Contracting, based in Fort Wayne, has been able to salvage almost 11 tons of scrap metal including steel, aluminum and copper from the first section of demolition. Four million pounds of concrete from the first section’s buildings has been diverted out of the landfill and into a new use. Feuser has also worked with Fort Wayne’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore program to reclaim and then sell usable building materials and components such as doors, shutters, appliances and cabinets.

“When structuring this project, the City was very deliberate in how we wanted to remove these obsolete buildings,” Mayor Henry said. “We didn’t want to just haul dozens of truckloads of debris to the landfill. Instead, we wanted to be able to take what still had use and divert it back into the marketplace, whether it be as scrap metal or to help Habitat build homes.”

The City is also having the asbestos removed from the structures before knocking them down, to make the project compliant with Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations. The City has requested that the contractors perform a “wet” demolition. The contractor will keep the buildings sprayed with water when actually removing them to minimize dust and particulate matter in the air.

 At the request of neighbors, the demolition activity is restricted to daytime, weekday hours.

Feuser Contracting also hired some people through Vincent Village’s new employment program as part of the City’s request to focus hiring employees from low- to moderate-income households.

Instead of using the traditional lowest-price bid process, the City used a Request for Proposal process that allowed the City’s Community Development Division to consider factors in addition to price, including experience, contractor capacity, and status as a WBE/MBE or HUD Section 3 contractor. OHNS also created a separate RFP for each of the demolition zones to give more contractors the opportunity to participate.

OHNS will host a meeting open to any contractors interested in learning more about the RFP process for the remaining four demolition sections at 10 a.m. Friday, May 27 at the McMillen Park golf course clubhouse.

“Community Development is committed to engaging people throughout this process, whether it be in developing ideas for this site or actually tearing the buildings down,” said Community Development Director John Urbahns. “Removal of these functionally obsolescent apartments was important because they were bringing down property values of adjacent homes. This starts a new chapter where we as a community can discuss the full potential for this property.”

The City of Fort Wayne purchased the foreclosed property on McKinney Avenue last fall, using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars. At the time only 52 of the 216 units were occupied. The high vacancy rate invited unwanted and potentially illicit activities. Following the purchase, the City relocated the residents to safe, decent and affordable housing.

Based on the low occupancy, the market told us very clearly that these apartments were not attractive to potential renters,” said Heather Presley-Cowen, deputy director of Housing and Neighborhood Services. “Our staff views this demolition to be the beginning, not the end of our involvement in this property.”

The purchase price was $1.1 million. The final cost for demolition has not been established but is expected to be around $1 million. The City is using federal Community Development Block Grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the demolition.