Hold that thought

Helping The Landing live again

The future of The Landing, looking south, photo courtesy of MKM Architecture + Design

The future of The Landing, looking south, photo courtesy of MKM Architecture + Design

More than the arrival of winter’s cold is adding a pins-and-needles feel to this month. The people who stand at the threshold of developing Fort Wayne’s historic Landing into a 21st-century version of its original liveliness and vitality undoubtedly feel that way as they seek and await approval of key aspects of public funding for the project.

“The way that is playing out right now, we will be presenting to City Council in early December and presenting to the Regional Development Authority in mid-December,” said Zachary Benedict, of Fort Wayne’s MKM architecture + design, lead designer for the Landing Project, chosen by developer The Model Group of Cincinnati. He does not expect to know whether the project is fully funded until sometime in January.

Their compatriots working on the first of many Riverfront Fort Wayne projects for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department-led project between the Harrison and Wells street bridges are seeking similar funding from the same sources at the same time and must feel the same way.

It’s a necessary and natural part of such investments in this day and age. And the funding decisions are not being made in some remote universe. Given, for example, that Fort Wayne City Council is making key decisions about whether to invest local Legacy Fund money, every citizen of Fort Wayne has a right to make his or her opinion known about that investment.

The conceptual drawings for the Landing project, unveiled in October, are in heavy use as they continue to explain the vision for the project to return The Landing to its original role from the Canal era – as in 1830s Wabash & Erie Canal – front door prominence it had in Fort Wayne’s downtown.

“That’s the kind of project The Landing is,” Benedict said. “It has come and gone by generations, and it will be in an interesting transitional state now. Not only will it become a destination, but it will function as a vibrant welcome mat or threshold for people moving in and out of downtown.”

It has been many, many decades since so much activity has been weighted that far north in downtown Fort Wayne, but that is precisely what the Landing, between the Riverfront’s first-of-many projects and Arts United’s scheduled upgrade to its East Main Street Arts Campus, can accomplish, developer Steve Smith, of The Model Group, said.

“Connectivity is important because there is so much activity happening in downtown Fort Wayne, all of these nodes happening,” he said. “When those nodes start to connect, that’s when the momentum starts.”

It’s an upward spiral that encourages people to spend more time downtown doing more things and spending more dollars.

The Landing project has a price tag of $37.5 million to restore seven historic buildings to the highest standards and build one new building to fit among them and provide living, shopping and entertainment space that will be active day and night, all week long, he said. Smith announced Bravas Burgers as the first restaurant tenant of the development, perfectly matching the criteria of “unique, boutique and local” that he learned from the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana research that informed and supports the development planning.

First appeared in the December 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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