A prize of $15,000 in design services has been awarded to the North Anthony Area Association after a monthlong contest that brought out the passion of its residents and businesses.
The association came out on top of vote tallies in March Fort Wayne-ness, a basketball bracket-style competition created by Fort Wayne architectural firm Hoch Associates to bring attention to the 32 neighborhoods that ring the city’s downtown.
The company is involved in plans for the downtown riverfront development but didn’t want neighborhoods to feel left out of revitalization efforts, said Dan Kennedy, Hoch Associates marketing director and contest coordinator.
"We believe that neighborhoods are essential for creating the best quality-of-life options," he said. "Basketball’s huge, and everybody loves playing brackets, so … we took a traditional idea and twisted it a little."
The contest started March 15 with the randomly assigned neighborhood pairs competing by getting people to vote by posting comments that day on Hoch Associates’ Facebook page. The championship round was Monday, with North Anthony, grouped with the small Forest Park neighborhood, vying against the Northside Neighborhood.
Northside and North Anthony are literally neighbors, said Michael Vorndran, president of North Anthony’s neighborhood association, making it tough for some residents to choose.
"You were in a hard position," he said Thursday, noting that about half of the 700 followers of the neighborhood association’s Facebook page, where votes were solicited, actually live in Northside.
"I was really surprised (at the win)," he said. "But the people who live here, they’re great people. They’re passionate about their neighborhood."
North Anthony came out on top against Oakdale and West Central en route to the victory.
It’s not yet clear how neighbors would want to "spend" their prize, Vorndran said. Hoch Associates is now surveying the neighborhood for input, Kennedy said, with the actual plan not expected until late summer.
The prize is a "design charette" that would put a plan for neighborhood improvement on paper, Kennedy said. Among the options, he said, might be "before" and "after" views for a certain property or neighborhood resource, Web page, signage design or branding services from contest partners Big Car Collaborative in Indianapolis or Wunderkammer Co. in Fort Wayne. Partner Keene Photos will provide professional photos of the neighborhood.
The goal is to up the identity of the approximately 1,000-home neighborhood, Kennedy said.
Vorndran said the win couldn’t come at a better time. The neighborhood is in line for a redeveloped supermarket. A Thai restaurant has announced plans to take over the shuttered Atz’s Ice Cream shop, and the neighborhood’s homes will be featured June 25 on the annual home and garden tour sponsored by ARCH, Fort Wayne’s nonprofit historic architecture preservation group.
The neighborhood, where most homes were built between 1912 and 1940, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2014. A business association, the North Anthony Corridor, has begun sponsoring community events.
‘"We’re happy about winning the contest and any benefits that come from it," Vorndran said. "(North Anthony) has become a popular place to be."