FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne residents could soon have multiple new downtown housing options, possibly accompanied by a place to get groceries and prescriptions.
Mayor Tom Henry and developers Thursday announced a $15 million mostly private initiative to renovate the Anthony Wayne Building into condominiums, retail and office space.
Along with the promised construction of The Harrison and its apartments, Henry said there is real momentum to making downtown a place to both live and work.
“This project will most certainly have a major impact for downtown Fort Wayne,” Henry said of the Anthony Wayne proposal.
The 100,000-square-foot building – constructed in 1961 – was originally home to Anthony Wayne Bank and most recently housed Chase Bank.
For the past several years, it has been about 90 percent vacant.
John Nichols, a principal with AWB Holdings, said the building, at 203 E. Berry St., seemed perfect for redevelopment because of its proximity to Citizens Square, the City-County Building and the Courthouse Green.
The company bought the building Sept. 16 after working on the project for about three years.
Nichols said his company plans to build about 50 condominiums on floors 6 through 15 with retail space on the first floor.
While he has no signed retail tenants, he said he is working to bring a grocery store, pharmacy, deli and possibly a health clinic to the building.
Floors 2 through 5 will remain a parking garage.
Henry said the project will work to complement The Harrison project, which is to include two floors of apartments, a floor for offices and retail on the first floor. The Harrison has been the long unfinished piece of Harrison Square, but new developers are working to begin construction on the $18.5 million building this fall.
The law firm Snow & Sauerteig LLP currently resides on the 13th floor of the Anthony Wayne Building but agreed to move to the 11th floor as part of the development, Nichols said.
The project will begin with seven condominiums on the sixth floor aided by a $1 million federal housing loan from the city.
The loan will be used to assist in construction costs and provide some permanent financing assistance for the developers.
For example, if developers spend $150,000 to construct a condominium that is then appraised at $120,000, a buyer will pay $120,000 to purchase the condominium and the city will allow the developer to keep $30,000 from the loan to make up the difference.
John Urbahns, city director of community development, said the city expects to recoup about 75 percent of its $1 million loan.
In addition, the project is getting $1.2 million in tax credits from the state. Private investment in the project is expected to exceed $11 million.
The condominiums will range in size from 793 square feet to 2,053 square feet, with a price range from $130,000 to $350,000. The larger and more expensive condos will be on the top floors, which offer a panoramic view of downtown and the city in general.
The developers said on a clear day, a person looking east from the top floors can see the windmill farms in western Ohio.
Nichols said construction will be completed in phases based on demand for the units.
Preliminary work on the building has begun, and the sixth-floor units are to be finished by late spring. Each unit will be custom built for its owner and include two parking spots in the garage.
He said he hoped the development would be completed in three to five years.