Making the Move Downtown

Fort Wayne’s bustling downtown is a larger draw than ever for a wide range of people.
Mar 6, 2018
Deborah C. Gerbers
Jeffrey Crane, Tim Brumbeloe, & Zack Kittaka

It’s no secret that downtown Fort Wayne is growing exponentially, attracting businesses and residents to make the move to the heart of the city. With countless new restaurants, shops, offices and new living options, downtown Fort Wayne is truly where people want to be.

Eric Doden, CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., says that the popularity of downtown has been slowly building in the last couple of decades but has really taken off with all of the new development. “This is a trend we have been seeing in other cities as well,” he says. “There is a movement back to the city. People are interested in walkability, and moving toward more community- and neighborhood-oriented areas where it’s easy to socialize with everyone. There is also something to be said about market trends making it more difficult for people to obtain loans, and they’re looking for a leasing or renting option instead of buying a house.”

Doden says the urban core of Fort Wayne is steadily growing and might even surpass some comparable cities like Grand Rapids and Omaha. 

“Fort Wayne has some really neat historical neighborhoods like West Central,” says Doden. “Those historic homes are now being revitalized or repurposed. And in terms of new development, Cityscape Townhouses, which is one of the first new builds is very unique in what it offers. Cityscape Flats and Skyline Tower are coming along – Skyline Tower is a high-rise apartment building. Adaptive reuse is another product that is popular now, where old buildings like Randall Lofts and Superior Lofts are being renovated and reused. There are so many different options to choose from downtown.”

Investor Mark Webb and his wife moved into the Cityscape Flats because they simply love downtown and the variety it offers. “It was a no-brainer for us,” he says. “We enjoy lots of activity and there is so much going on in downtown Fort Wayne right now. We like to go to the Embassy Theatre, dine at all of the awesome restaurants and take in an occasional ball game, too. I am also an investor in downtown because I feel it’s a great way for me to give back for a greater community gain.”

Living in the urban core gives a real community feel as well. People of all ages and walks of life are coming together and living close to one another. Doden says one of the reasons for the varied age demographic of people living downtown is because of all those different living options. “You’re not just seeing people in their twenties and thirties moving down here,” he says. “We are seeing a lot of empty nesters 50 and above who want to downsize once their children have grown up and moved out.”

Rae Anne and Don Cates and their two daughters moved to downtown Fort Wayne from their lake home in Rochester, Indiana a few years ago. They live in a top-floor apartment of the Harrison, right along the third baseline at Parkview Field. “We just love being downtown,” says Rae Anne.
“There are so many wonderful restaurants nearby within walking distance. I also like to walk to the downtown Y, the library and also to work. And one of the great things about living in a building like the Harrison is that if something goes wrong, all it takes is a call to maintenance to fix the problem.”

Walkability is another attraction to living downtown. People can virtually walk anywhere in the area to work, lunch, shopping, the Embassy, baseball games at Parkview Field, concerts at the library and more. “On top of everything you could want being walkable, living along the riverfront is another attractive quality of downtown,” says Doden. “We have a $100 million riverfront, connecting downtown to 80 miles of trails as well. You can jump on a bike, or run or walk along the trails in all directions. These are the kinds of things that can be enjoyed by people of any age.”

Tax associate Tara Cahill first moved downtown from her parents’ house upon graduating from college a few years ago. She started out living in Three River Apartments, but then an opportunity came along to purchase a unit in the Midtown building near the Dash-In on Calhoun Street. “I just love living downtown!” she says. “I can go just about anywhere without much thought, and there are so many fun things to do here. I especially love going to TinCaps games, and also riding my bike or walking to meet up with friends. It’s also nice that I park beneath my building so I don’t have to worry about my car. And I walk or bike everywhere most times so sometimes I won’t drive my car for days.”

Downtown Fort Wayne is certainly making other neighboring cities take notice. “By far and away the hottest market in Indiana and possibly the Midwest, is Fort Wayne,” says Doden. “We have always had this potential. People all over the region realize our potential, given especially our location, and the sky is the limit. We are making bold moves here in Fort Wayne to meet our full potential.” 

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