The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 21, 2022 1:00 am

$12 million Landing development planned

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

The Landing will soon see almost $12 million in development from a Cincinnati developer about a year after it completed a $32 million project on the historic block.

City and development officials on Thursday announced the project that involves the historic preservation of three buildings on West Columbia Street and the construction of two others.

Columbia Street West, 135 W. Columbia St., will be renovated, and new construction will be erected behind the former bar and along its east side.

A three-story, mixed-use building is planned for 617 S. Harrison St., the space behind the old Columbia Street West facing the restaurant Tolon.

The upper floors of 126 W. Columbia St., where Asian fusion restaurant Nawa is housed, will be renovated as well.

Once the project is completed, The Landing will have 21,326 square feet of new commercial and retail space and 21 new housing units, most of which will be market rate. The Model Group has already invested about $32 million in the redevelopment of The Landing, the one-block stretch of West Columbia Street between Harrison and Calhoun streets.

The redevelopment brought in restaurants Alto Grado Pizza, the Landing Beer Co., Marquee, Mercado and Utopian Cafe to join Nawa. Retail and residential spaces were also added.

Mayor Tom Henry said he is thrilled with the historic neighborhood's progress.

“The Landing has gone through several different transformations, trying to make sure we would hit upon something that would truly be a gathering place for citizens and visitors to Fort Wayne,” he said. “We've experimented several times over the years and, finally, we hit on a real gem.”

The city, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is putting $750,000 in funding from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to make sure affordable housing is part of the development project.

Of the 21 additional apartments, five will be affordable units. Kelly Lundberg, deputy director of Housing and Neighborhood Services, said it is important to city officials to “make sure this market is accessible to all families.”

Steve Smith, of developer The Model Group, said he likes the city's vision of preserving history while making way for the future. The Model Group uses Fort Wayne as an example of its work rather than showing potential clients around the company's work in its hometown of Cincinnati.

“When we want to show people what it means to positively transform communities, we put them in a car and we bring them to Fort Wayne,” Smith said. “Because what has happened here is an example of what's possible through public/private partnerships when people agree on the vision.”

The new project is expected to be completed late this year.

Nancy Townsend, the city's redevelopment director, said The Model Group's continued interest validates the city's redevelopment efforts.

Henry has created an environment where “every single developer that we've worked with here wants to do another deal here,” Townsend said. “They want to work with us because they believe in Fort Wayne.”

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