Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, representatives from Model Group, the Downtown Trust, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and other partners today celebrated the completion of the West Columbia Street streetscape. The new streetscape includes a pedestrian-friendly plaza complete with trees, landscaping, benches, lighting, and gateway features at the intersections of Columbia with Calhoun and Harrison streets.
“Because The Landing represents such an important part of our community’s history and is a centerpiece of our downtown revitalization efforts, we knew we had to complement it with a truly unique and special streetscape,” said Mayor Henry. “The completed streetscape invites residents and visitors to sit and enjoy this beautiful place in the heart of our city.”
Underground, a new 12-inch water main replaced the cast iron main installed in 1910 and a new stormwater line was installed, allowing for the combination sewer to be separated. Above ground, the curbs, sidewalk and asphalt pavement were removed and replaced with one continuous stretch of architectural concrete so the sidewalk is level with the street and with the entrances to the buildings. The new concrete is flecked with decorative multi-colored acrylic chips.
Sculptural gate features of openwork metal have been added at both the Calhoun Street and Harrison Street ends. When the gates are open, traffic will be one-way from east to west and will allow for deliveries to be made to residents, businesses and shops.
The intersection of West Columbia and Harrison streets has been raised to the same elevation as the new pavement on West Columbia Street, creating a table-top crossing that’s intended to slow traffic for added pedestrian safety. This intersection also includes a portion of the Urban Trail located along the east side of Harrison. The Urban Trail is intended to encourage more walking and biking by providing an additional 10-foot wide bike path at sidewalk elevation that links major destinations along Harrison and Superior streets with the Rivergreenway.
The general contractor for the streetscape construction was Strebig Construction. The City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development and Public Works divisions managed the project with assistance from City Utilities.
The streetscape complements the work to revitalize The Landing underway by the Model Group. The $32.2 million project includes the historic renovation of seven buildings and construction of one new one. The project includes 70 apartments and 56,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. For nearly a century, The Landing was the central business district of Fort Wayne because of its location along the Wabash and Erie Canal and later the railroad. It is a local historic district and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Downtown Trust, a non-profit formed in 2011 to purchase underutilized property in downtown Fort Wayne, bought the buildings and eventually chose The Model Group as the developer. In addition to Owner Equity, project financing includes support from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, Legacy Fort Wayne, City of Fort Wayne Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority. The project attracted private investor equity through the sale of New Markets and Historic Tax Credits and received Senior Debt from IFF. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. provides staffing and support for the Downtown Trust.
The project is expected to be complete by spring of 2020.