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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 07, 2017 10:02 pm

Mission's plan boosts parking

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

When The Rescue Mission announced last year it planned to move from its current location at 301 W. Superior St. to the southeast corner of East Washington and Lafayette streets, one concern was whether the site had enough parking to support the mission’s housing and programming for the homeless.

Now, the mission has changed its original – and already-approved – plan by adding up to 10 parking spots on land immediately to the east of its new site. 

To do so, the mission is buying the property that for years has housed the LaHartz Inc. trophy and awards shop and plans to demolish the building.

The new proposal will have public hearings before the Fort Wayne Plan Commission at 6 p.m. Monday and the Board of Zoning Appeals at 6 p.m. March 16.

Sought by Fort Wayne Rescue Mission Ministries is rezoning of the additional land from downtown edge to downtown core and approval of an amended primary development plan. The mission also needs a special-use variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals because parking in a front or side yard is prohibited under the city’s zoning ordinance.

The original approval had 17 parking spaces for the mission. The new property adds 4,500 square feet in a 30-by-150-foot configuration that likely will hold nine spaces, according to the mission’s application. Otherwise, there are no changes to the mission’s plans, the application states.

The mission maintains that demolishing the LaHartz building "will alleviate a detrimental situation" because the structure’s walls are at most a little more than two feet from an adjacent building, the Oak Street Health clinic.

And the variance is not being sought to avoid construction costs but instead will cause the mission to incur additional costs, the application states.

The mission planned the move because the new site will offer increased housing for a rising number of homeless men as well as provide space for programming to help homeless men and women stabilize their living situations.

The mission’s current property is also across the street from planned riverfront park development and may at some point be needed for that use.  

LaHartz is closing after 38 years in business, said Sharran Gavin, co-owner with her daughter, Sue Wall, while cleaning out the shop Tuesday. The business provided engraved plaques, trophies and gifts and other awards, including ribbons, medals and certificates.

LaHartz will accept only limited orders through email at     

The rezoning, if granted by the plan commission, will need to be approved by City Council. Public hearings will take place in Room 35 of Citizens Square, 201 E. Berry St.