The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 1:00 am

Jefferson plan transforms again

Strip mall proposed for beleaguered project


A project at 6626 W. Jefferson Blvd. that morphed from a residence into a giant garage and then a restaurant and retail plaza has changed shape again – this time into a four-unit commercial development.

At Monday's public hearing of the Fort Wayne Plan Commission, representatives of Fort Wayne restaurateur Martin Quintana presented a new plan for a project that has been besieged by zoning concerns, two stop-work orders because of building-code violations and opposition from neighbors.

After the meeting, several neighbors said it was the first time they had seen the latest configuration for the project – four strip-style units requested to be zoned for limited commercial use with 42 parking spaces.

The building's footprint also had grown from about 9,000 square feet to about 11,800 square feet with the enclosure of what had been described as a back porch for restaurant dining.

The developer's representatives also said the building would likely not be a restaurant – although it could be a Subway-style sandwich shop without a drive-thru or sit-down service.

The structure would likely be built as a shell building with an interior that could be customized later to fit specific users. 

Plan commission members were told the project would likely be a mix of personal and professional service providers and lower-volume retailers. Mentioned were two physical therapy practices and a mattress store as having possible interest.

The property would have only right-in, right-out access.

Representing the project were Fort Wayne attorney James Federoff; Matt Kelty, architect with Kelty Tappy Design in Fort Wayne; and John Caffray of Sturges Property Group, Fort Wayne.

Federoff readily acknowledged problems with the project so far, while denying his client was planning “to circumvent the process” of approvals.

“I think all of us in this room realize in Fort Wayne ... that's not possible ... and it's not reasonable to believe that,” Federoff said.

He added that the developers plan on doing everything they can by the book from now on. Kelty said the building is “not safe” as is. 

However, some residents said they were not comfortable with that, saying Quintana had placed officials in the position of having to grant forgiveness instead of permission.

Two representatives said they would support the project only if a substantial written commitment remained unchanged.

Jo Korte a resident of Briarwood Hills, said the developer still has not sufficiently consulted with that neighborhood.

“They should have to tear it down,” she said of the unfinished structure, which has sat idle for months.

The plan commission is expected to vote on the project during its business meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 19 in Room 30 of Citizens Square.

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