It was supposed to come down more than a year ago, but city officials figure better late than never for a demolition that could provide more downtown parking or land for private development along the St. Marys River.
The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission on Monday is expected to buy the former Smurfit-Stone building at 124 W. Superior St. from the Downtown Development Trust, the not-for-profit group that has acquired numerous properties incorporated into such projects as the Ash Brokerage headquarters and the Columbia Street Landing. Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said the cleared property could provide parking for the tenants of the adjacent Superior Lofts housing project now under construction or space for private riverfront development.
Most of the property purchased for the first phase of riverfront development is limited to park use or other public space because the city acquired it through the power of eminent domain. Although part of the property is in the floodplain, Townsend said it could be developed because some of the area will be elevated with dirt removed from other areas of the project.
The Smurfit building was added to preservation group ARCH's list of endangered historic properties in 2015 and was supposed to come down late that year, but demolition was delayed because then-owner Real America, developer of Superior Lofts, needed the structure to qualify for historic tax credits. A $500,000 grant from the Fort Wayne Community Foundation will pay for demolition, Townsend said. The foundation had considered rescinding the grant because of the lengthy delay in demolition.
Also Monday the commission is expected to approve a long-promised $2.5 million contribution to the $32 million redevelopment of The Landing. The city investment, which would be paid through taxes generated by the new shops, apartments and other improvements, would pay for landscaping and other infrastructure.
But because those taxes won't come until the project opens, developer Model Group of Cincinnati will pay for the improvements and be reimbursed as the money becomes available, Townsend said.