FORT WAYNE – Downtown condos are selling so quickly in the Anthony Wayne Building the developers have turned down a $1 million city loan for the project.
The 100,000-square-foot building, at Clinton and Berry streets, has been about 90 percent vacant for the past several years. But RCI Development is turning the building into high-end condominiums with an impressive view of the Courthouse Green and surrounding area.
The project consists of condominiums on floors 6 through 15 with retail space on the first floor. Floors 2 through 5 will remain a parking garage. The seventh floor will be office space for various businesses, and the 11th floor will be the new home of Snow & Sauerteig LLP, which currently is on the 13th floor. Built in 1961, the building was originally home to Anthony Wayne Bank.
More than 20 housing units have been bought, and developers have commitments from six retail tenants for the seventh floor. The first residents are expected to move in this summer.
In addition to other incentives, the city of Fort Wayne had offered a $1 million loan toward the $15 million project. That offer, the developers said, gave them the assurance they needed to get the project off the ground.
Without that early commitment, we were reluctant to proceed with the renovations to the building until we had firm sales commitments, developer John Nichols said. Fortunately, our residential condominium buyers came sooner and in larger numbers than we ever anticipated, allowing us to decline the NSP loan award and privately fund the construction of our condominiums with conventional bank financing.
The loan was to come from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is usually used for single-family residential projects, but, with federal approval, can also be used for other residential projects. Financed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the loans spur developers to rehab existing properties by making up the difference between what the finished project is worth and what it costs to buy it and fix it up.
Now, those funds will get to be used for other projects, said Heather Presley-Cowen, deputy director of the citys Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services.
The success of the Anthony Wayne development is allowing us to get double the impact from the federal NSP dollars, Presley-Cowen said. Now, even more neighborhoods can benefit from this investment.
The plan was originally to develop about 50 condos in the building, but that number has shrunk to 42 as people have bought larger units than expected. For example, three people each bought half an entire floor – giving each a 2,700-square-foot living space downtown. Prices on the units range from $155 a square foot on the lowest level to $175 a square foot on the highest. The building will also house Anytime Fitness in its basement.
Mayor Tom Henry said the loan was meant only to spur the private sector into acting on a market officials were sure was there.
The city pledged $1 million of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to help jumpstart the development. That jump-start worked; in fact, it worked so well, that the initial investment is no longer needed, Henry said. That proves our case that the market for this type of downtown housing is there.
The downtown dream is coming to life – bringing new jobs, new residents, new businesses and new economic growth into the center of our city.
In addition to the NSP loan, the city also assisted the developers in getting $1.25 million in state tax credits for commercial developments in designated urban areas. The developers also received a $40,000 façade improvement grant financed by the citys Community Economic Development Income Tax.
Benjamin Lanka of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.