The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board on Thursday approved an architectural and engineering services contract for the planned downtown arena.
As part of the $283,000 contract, Sink Combs Dethlefts, of Denver, will develop programming, schematic designs and cost estimates for the arena project. The Colorado firm will partner with local architecture companies including Elevatus Architecture, Design Collaborative and Hoch Associates.
Though the cost of the project has yet to be determined, some have estimated the arena seating 5,000 to 6,000 will come with a $65 million price tag. A previous study identified a site adjacent to Grand Wayne Center on Harrison Street, which is currently occupied by Taco Bell, Rally’s and King Gyros.
"As we were putting the request for proposals together, it was really important for us to find candidates for this assignment that had significant arena and event center design expertise and experience," said Steve Brody, who chaired the CIB’s request for proposals committee. "We have great local architectural firms but none of them have had any breadth of activity with the kind of facility we’re talking about."
Brody said Sink Combs Dethlefts has done work on more than 50 arena projects. Those projects include Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Portland, Maine; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Oklahoma City; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Independence, Missouri.
The work is expected to be finished in December and will be used to evaluate whether the project should proceed to the next phase. Brody said the board will be looking for a facility with a distinctive exterior design with a very functional interior.
"We want this facility to be really busy and we want there to be activity there as often as possible," Brody said. "So this programming phase, where we’re thinking about what kind of events will be held there, will partly drive how the interior will be designed."
Brody noted that the board wants to be able to host sporting events, concerts and other community activities. The goal, he said, is to use the arena to complement Grand Wayne Center.
In April, the Capital Improvement Board received requests from the city of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Board of Commissioners to fund a request for proposals process to find an architectural and engineering firm to develop a schematic design and project cost estimates. The request for proposals was issued on June 2 and received four proposals.