Around Waynedale, people often keep a few stray singles in their pocket. After all, they might want to pick up a fried tenderloin sandwich at a church fundraiser or toss some money into a collection can at a business to help a resident fight cancer.
Waynedale, Dave Umber says, is just that kind of place – a place where people have warm hearts. People come together to give, he says.
The community also is becoming a place with one of the warmer housing markets in the Fort Wayne area, real estate agents say.
After years of being derided as a suburb of Fort Wayne International Airport or as too far from downtown – Oh, youre all the way out in often precedes the word Waynedale, says Umber, long-time owner of Umbers Do it Best Hardware on Lower Huntington Road – the little community in southwest Fort Wayne taking on a cachet as a friendly, convenient and affordable place to live.
Generally, Waynedale radiates from the business district around the intersection of Lower Huntington and Bluffton roads. The community extends to the St. Marys River, the Airport Expressway-Baer Field Thruway to the east and south and south and Engle Road to the north. The western boundary runs along Ardmore Avenue.
Its a little slower pace than all the hustle and bustle out north, says Dan Trenary, a Realtor who grew up in Waynedale and has four current listings there. People tell me its safe, they like the friendly neighbors, and its got access to all the banks, shopping opportunities and nice parks.
The community also has great buys, says Realtor Corey Malcolm, especially for recession-weary home shoppers looking for deals.
Malcolm, of Fort Waynes Mike Thomas Associates, points to a five-bedroom two-story Waynedale home he has listed with partner Melissa Schlueter for $69,900. The property that comes with a fenced yard, a 16-by-12-foot shed and two large bedrooms and full bath on the first floor.
It was listed about three weeks ago, and Ive done two to three showings a week on it. Thats phenomenal in this market, he says. The house is affordable, and thats what people like. And they like that small-town feel.
Recent statistics show median housing prices in the Waynedale area generally run subtantially under Allen Countys.
The Upstate Alliance of Realtors in Fort Wayne reports for the first quarter of 2012, median values for homes sold by Realtors in the two zip codes that include Waynedale were $84,250 and $59,000. The Allen County median was $98,250.
The median price means half of homes sold above that price and half sold below it. Waynedales higher median represents the 46819 zip code east of Bluffton Road, while the lower median in 46809 is on the west side.
Real estate agents say it can be difficult to get a handle on Waynedale home values because it has remained unincorporated since being annexed into the city in 1957 – part of the reason, residents say, for its small-town atmosphere and compact business district with many multi-generational owners.
But the community doesnt have firm boundaries, and prices based on ZIP codes can be skewed both upward and downward by property outside of what people think of as Waynedale, agents say.
Mitch Harper, whose Fort Wayne City Council district includes Waynedale, says lower prices dont come because of old or dilapidated housing. Realtors are at a bit of a loss to explain why prices are lower, except that houses are often somewhat smaller, with most dating from between the 1920s and 1970s.
Harper says Waynedale is a good place to look for a starter home, but, he adds: Theres (a) range of housing in Waynedale, from the Lakeshores addition, which is on Fort Waynes largest body of water and gives you the experience of being on a lake where you can have a $300,000 house, to three-bedroom ranches to bungalows to the smallest houses built on alleys after World War II.
Heres what you have to understand – out in Waynedale its a community of doers. People arent afraid to work hard, and theyre proud of what they do.
Indeed, pride in Waynedale, residents say, appears on an upswing.
Residents and businesses have formed the Waynedale Community Improvement Committee.
Community projects include an Easter egg hunt that this year drew about 1,000 people, a Christmas in Waynedale celebration, a Memorial Day parade Monday, a summer picnic and a Taste of Waynedale featuring local restaurants in the fall, says Beulah Matczak, president of the Southeast Waynedale Neighborhood Association.
Matczak, whom some have dubbed the unofficial mayor of Waynedale, says shes encouraged by interest in improving Waynedale on the part of Fort Wayne officials.
Needed sidewalks are being installed, stormwater drains fixed, and work to get trails extended for walkers and bicyclists is ongoing, as are discussions about building a community youth center, she says.
In February, Mayor Tom Henry did a walk-through of neighborhoods and businesses. He brought his staff with him – he had all different departments walking with him, Matczak says. I was very impressed by that.
Residents note that theres new construction going up – a rent-to-own housing addition, Hopewell Pointe, and seniors duplexes being built just off Bluffton Road. The license branch and Social Security office have brought more people to Waynedale, residents say, and new businesses are coming in, including a Verizon outlet.
Residents also say that the widening and extension of Ardmore Avenue has made Waynedale more accessible to points of interest along the Jefferson Boulevard corridor, the north side and Interstate 69 exits, leading to easier commutes.
What will happen in the real estate market is still uncertain, agents say, but signs are encouraging.
Closed sales are up by a third over last year at this time in 46819 and by 50 percent in 46809, UPSTAR statistics show; listings are up by nearly 24 percent and 35 percent respectively. Houses in March sold for averages of 95 percent and 91 percent of listing prices; the comparable Allen County figure is 92 percent.
Because tax rates are lower in Fort Wayne than in Aboite Township, agents point out, Waynedale homes cost less per month than comparably priced homes on the other side of the township line.
Median prices, which jumped 25 percent to 30 percent in both of Waynedales ZIP codes between mid-2010 and mid-2011 and then fell just as steeply, are now at or slightly under where they were in 2008, before the housing crisis set in, according to UPSTAR.
Trenary remains bullish on Waynedale as a good place for potential investors and homeowners.
Asked whether Waynedale had drawbacks, he pauses for a moment.
Drawbacks? he replies. Not that Im aware of. Well, potentially, noise from airplanes that fly over. But you get used to it.