New Residential Units & Commercial Space Planned Downtown

A nonprofit group created two years ago to promote the downtown economy has bought its first property and hopes to sell it for business and residential development within 90 days.

“We’re working with three interested parties, and we’d like to see commercial on the first floor, maybe a grocery or restaurant, and apartments on the second floor,” said Karl Bandemer, senior development officer for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, which together with the Downtown Improvement District created the Downtown Development Trust as a mechanism to acquire downtown property for redevelopment.

The first purchase came about three weeks ago when the Trust bought the long-vacant former Instant Copy building at 232 W. Wayne St. The purchase was funded through a line of credit provided by the Fort Wayne Community Foundation, and Bandemer said the Trust hopes to use proceeds from its sale to a developer to buy other properties.

“We don’t want to be a landlord or developer, and we’re going to take this one project at a time. But if this works, and it will, it will open the door for other projects. There are other opportunities downtown,” he said.

Because the Trust is a nonprofit organization, it can buy properties more inexpensively than government agencies, passing any savings on as an incentive for developers. Bandemer said the 7,400-square-foot Instant Copy building was selected as the Trust’s first project because it had been vacant for several years, has a 10-space parking lot in back and is in an ideal location.

Downtown Improvement District President Rich Davis noted that the Wayne Street address is near the main library, Parkview Field and several restaurants and businesses. “It’s an area with a lot of capacity for development, and this is a good first step for the Trust,” Davis said.

Bandemer said the Trust, modeled on programs in Chattanooga, Tenn., and elsewhere, will select a developer based on the purchase price and the attractiveness and viability of the proposal. He would not disclose how much the Trust paid for the property, but sales figures are public record and Wayne Township Assessor Bev Zuber said the purchase price was $250,000.

-News Sentinel

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Categories: Housing, Shopping & Dining

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