The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 24, 2020 1:00 am

Model shows next steps for riverfront

Includes $67 million Lofts at Headwaters south of the park


The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board got a glimpse Thursday morning of what the mixed-use buildings along the riverfront should look like.

Representatives of the Indianapolis developer Barrett & Stokely displayed an elaborate model to illustrate their plans and a detailed PowerPoint presentation on the two projects.

One will go up along the south side of the river directly east of the Promenade Park entrance. The other, The Lofts at Headwaters Park, will be placed on the parking lot now used by Club Soda at the corner of North Clinton and East Superior streets.

The developer did not ask for financial help from the CIB, which oversees spending from the food and beverage tax. But Nancy Townsend, Fort Wayne's director of redevelopment, told the board a request may come as soon as February's CIB meeting.

B&S's Rex Barrett explained the company has been consulting closely with the city's parks department, the consultant working on riverfront projects and local festival groups.

He said The Lofts at Headwaters project includes electrical power and other provisions festival vendors need. The $67.75 million project, just south of the Headwaters Park pavilion, will have 651 parking spaces in the interior of the building, 212 apartments, 15 townhouses and 12,000 square feet of retail space.

The second building, across North Harrison Street from Promenade Park and now dubbed Premier Riverfront, represents $88.73 million in investment. The project has 913 parking spaces, 220 apartments and seven townhomes, 14,000 square feet of retail, 12,800 square feet of “flex space” and 24,000 square feet of office space.

The plan now includes townhomes along the riverfront and a 75-to-90-foot-wide sloping passage to allow public access to the St. Marys River that would accommodate kayak loading, Barrett said.

Retail space has been moved to the Harrison Street side of the project instead of along the riverfront. And, what the developer calls “amenity spaces” have been brought to the ground floor at the building's northwest corner and designed “to look more like an outdoor plaza,” he said.

The model showed an unusual configuration that looks somewhat like a backward capital E. Not only is the parking garage in the interior and unseen from the street, but residential units are arranged around two separate open areas that constitute the roofs of the parking garage.

Rents in the two buildings would be similar, Barrett said. Townhomes would cost about $2,300 a month, but some units under 700 square feet would cost around $712 a month. 

“They will be (generally) priced higher than what's on the (Fort Wayne) market today,” Barrett acknowledged. “But depending on the unit type, they (rents) may be similar.”

There are no units reserved for low-to-moderate income residents, he said in response to a question. But he said he expects “a regional draw” of downsizing tenants from 40 to 50 miles away or even from the Chicago area.

“It's Chicago without the downsides,” Barrett said of living in downtown Fort Wayne. 

Barrett & Stokely intends to own both projects for a considerable amount of time, he said. The company now has 12,000 units under management by 400 employees.    

Barrett said Fort Wayne officials have been a pleasure to work with because “everybody seems to be on the same page.”

Board member Don Steininger, a long-time Fort Wayne developer, returned the compliment. “They are the real deal,” he said. “They're the kind of people we want in Fort Wayne.”

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