In a project believed to be the first of its kind in Indiana, a longtime neighborhood eyesore will be replaced by a multimillion-dollar housing facility for young adults recently released from foster care.
“It’s a ‘homelessness prevention project,’ and there are few examples like it,” said Mike Blee, vice president of Decatur-based Ideal Suburban Homes, which this week asked the Fort Wayne Plan Commission for permission to tear down the long-vacant former Duemling Clinic building at 2828 Fairfield Ave. and replace it with a new 37-unit, 47,000-square-foot project called “The Courtyard.”
The News-Sentinel reported an outline of the project in March, but Blee said the necessary federal low-income tax credits were not approved until last month. Demolition and construction could begin before the end of the year, with completion by late 2013.
Blee said the project will feature a partnership between Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) and Stop Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN). Too often, he said, children who become too old for foster homes have nowhere to go. But The Courtyard is designed to provide more than housing: Residents will also receive training in finance, employment, cooking and other life skills. In fact, an on-site “training kitchen,” operated in conjunction with Ivy Tech, is designed to provide culinary instruction that could lead to additional education or work.
The Fort Wayne Housing Authority is expected to help subsidize rent payments, but Blee said residents are expected to pay 30 percent of their income toward the cost of living there. The project targets people ages 18 to 25, and Blee said 12 of the units will include two bedrooms to accommodate people with children.
Located adjacent to the original Lutheran Hospital campus, the clinic became obsolete for medical use after the hospital moved by Interstate 69 and was purchased by the Fort Wayne Community Schools in 1994 for $800,000. But the district’s plan to use the building as a resource center never materialized, and the empty building was purchased by local businessman Vince Tippmann in 2004 for $290,000.
Blee said residents will be carefully screened and will have to meet strict guidelines. The neighborhood, Blee said, has supported the project.
“We all pretty much agreed this is our best bet for getting rid of this eyesore,” South Wayne Neighborhood Association President Michelle Bardon told The News-Sentinel in March.
Blee said a news conference about the project is scheduled for Monday, and the Plan Commission is expected to consider the proposal next month.