An eyesore in Fort Wayne's Nebraska neighborhood just west of downtown may soon get a makeover, according to documents filed for consideration by the Fort Wayne Plan Commission.
The property at 1130 W. Main St., formerly a trucking terminal and a recycling business, is the subject of a new plan from a Fort Wayne real estate investor who wants to convert the site into a personal storage complex.
The facility would have an unusual feature – two small buildings with individual lockers where people could store bicycles for use in downtown touring or riding on the Rivergreenway, which runs along the property's eastern edge.
“I know a storage facility isn't the most glamorous use, but it's feasible and it's needed,” said Brooks V. Ford, who filed the application for approval of a primary development plan with two waivers of setback standards and a request for an alternative landscaping plan.
Ford, who is also working on a storage facility on a former go-kart track on Decatur Road near Bishop Luers High School, said he knows redevelopment of the property will face several hurdles.
Environmental issues preclude residential development of the 1.5-acre site on the north side of Main Street, he said. The former recycling facility on the property is subject to restrictions from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Ford said.
The building also was condemned after a complaint in February. John Caywood, building department director, said the structure was unsound because interior columns had been damaged and not repaired or replaced.
He said the scope of work needed likely would exceed the value of the structure.
Ford said plans are to turn the existing building – about 30,000 square feet – into two-story, climate-controlled storage units and add a wing. Three other buildings are also planned. The site would contain 350 to 375 climate-controlled and nonclimate-controlled units, he said.
“The reason we picked that site is that there's not a lot of competition in that area and people want storage to be within a mile or two of areas where they live or work,” he said. Also, the site is already zoned appropriately for the use so no rezoning will be required, he said.
He expects demand from downsizers and people living in the proliferating number of small downtown apartments.
Ford said the idea for the bike lockers came from his experience with his family, which includes young children. He said individuals and families from other parts of the city and the suburbs would use the greenway more if they didn't have to load and unload bikes from the car each time they want to ride.
“It's a pain,” he said. “If you have a bike locker that's affordable, it's convenient to store bikes where you ride.”
Ford is still deciding which style of locker to choose. With the application, he included plans for 40 units in two circular buildings made by Velo-Safe, a British company. But he said he may have units made locally.
A small public parking area is planned at the property so people can easily access the greenway, Ford said.
He also envisions the site as eventually including a boat or kayak ramp for river access, although he said he's unsure how that would be accomplished.
“My business partner, Chris Suskovich, and I are extremely excited about the opportunity to brighten up the west Main corridor,” For said.
Chris Shatto of the Nebraska Neighborhood Association, said so far the project is welcome.
“Certainly, from the standpoint of the neighborhood, it sounds better than what we have now,” he said, noting the building has been a target for graffiti and break-ins since becoming vacant last year.
The proposal will have a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in Room 35 of Citizens Square.