February 15, 2018 - The Model Group, developer for The Landing on West Columbia Street, celebrated the start of construction today on the $32.2 million project.
The Model Group President and CEO Steve Smith showed Mayor Tom Henry and Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust President Mac Parker the work that has started on the block of historic buildings. Currently, construction crews are doing interior demolition and environmental abatement.
“This project is about more than bringing new residential and commercial space to downtown Fort Wayne,” said Smith. “It is about preserving and showcasing the community’s history and offering opportunities for residents to live, work and play in the heart of the city.”
The Landing project includes the historic restoration of seven buildings and the construction of one new building at 111 W. Columbia St. The project includes 70 apartments and 56,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The new building will replace the only building on The Landing that is not designated as historic. The remainder of the buildings are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are also designated as a Local Historic District.
“The Landing is unique to our city – no other community has anything like it,” said Mayor Henry. “That’s why it’s so important to restore this block of buildings and make it a centerpiece of our downtown revitalization efforts.”
For nearly a century, The Landing was the central business district of Fort Wayne because of its proximity to the Wabash and Erie Canal and later the railroad. The block is home to many Fort Wayne firsts, including the first post office (1820), hotel (1823), newspaper (1833), theater (1851) and railway station (1853).
“Creating interesting gathering places is nothing new to The Landing,” said Parker. “Since the days of Dana Columbia, two constants remain: the sturdy buildings on West Columbia and the desire for people to walk, to see and be seen, and to network with business owners and their customers. Our hospitable and friendly nature and desire is as true today as it was in the 19th century.”
The Downtown Trust, a non-profit formed in 2011 to purchase underutilized property in downtown Fort Wayne, bought the buildings and eventually chose The Model Group as the developer. Based in Cincinnati, The Model Group specializes in revitalizing urban neighborhoods and was instrumental in the redevelopment of Cincinnati’s historic Over-The-Rhine community.
In addition to Owner Equity, project financing includes support from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, Legacy Fort Wayne, City of Fort Wayne Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority. The project attracted private investor equity through the sale of New Markets and Historic Tax Credits and received Senior Debt from IFF. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. provides staffing and support for the Downtown Trust.
Construction on The Landing is expected to be complete by summer 2019.