How many residents can Fort Wayne hold?
As The Journal Gazette’s Rosa Salter Rodriguez reported Sunday, the apartment projects springing up downtown don’t seem to be hurting for prospective tenants. The Harrison and Randall Lofts are nearly full, she reported, and Skyline Towers has a waiting list for its 124-unit project.
Two more blocs of apartments are on the horizon as retail-commercial-residential plans are laid for The Landing and the old GE campus. But other developers aren’t worried. Jeff Ryan of Real-America Companies, the firm fashioning Superior Lofts from an old box company, told Rodriguez he’s confident his new facility will thrive.
"It becomes a cycle of people buying downtown and bringing more people downtown," he said.
Eric Doden, one of six partners in Domo Ventures LLC, the developer of Cityscape Flats, was also one of the architects of the GE campus deal announced last month. He’s confident the market can handle the potentially hundreds of new apartments the GE complex may include.
"The stats you really look at are vacancies, said Doden, noting that "absorption" of apartments is at 96 percent citywide and 99 percent downtown. "Anything over 93 percent, there’s room in the market for more product."
The office for Cityscape Flats has been open two weeks and already has17 signed leases, Doden said. And "we have 350 prospects from the web or by phone." But most of the 163 apartment units are still "first-come, first-served," he said. Construction is also set to begin on14 townhouse units.
Being at the center of things is the lure for those pouring into the new developments. Restaurants, the arts, Parkview Field, the Allen County Library – new stuff and historic old stuff to do and see and hang out in, all within walking distance of home. A recent survey showed that downtown office space is in demand, as well.
Doden is confident the surge of development will take care of the biggest complaint of current downtown residents – the lack of a grocery or drug store.
"I always say, retail follows rooftops," Doden said. "We are already starting to see discussions about pharmacies and grocery stores."
The hope is that young people will be lured to Fort Wayne by a blossoming downtown lifestyle, and that baby boomers will be persuaded to stay.