“We both lived in the suburbs our whole life,” Trish Ellis said. “When we heard about this, we came racing down here last November.”
The Ellises sold their Sycamore Hills house, put their belongings in storage and have been living in a motel while waiting for their condo to be done. This week, they were going to be the first residents to move into the AWB Condos. They're actually renting a unit next to the one they own until it is finished, probably after Christmas.
This weekend and next, others who are curious about living downtown in a high-rise condominium are invited to tour a finished condo on the 15th floor of the building at the corner of Clinton and Berry streets. It will be open as part of the fall Town & Country New Home Tour.
The first thing visitors will notice when they enter the condo is the view. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer an expansive view to the east and north.
The two-bedroom, two-bath unit is spacious and modern, with a fireplace, wood floors, laundry room and built-in shelves.
The view of other condos on the west side of the building is even more spectacular, featuring the Allen County Courthouse and the Courthouse Green. John Nichols, one of the investors in the building, said the west side has been most popular so far. Of the 39 residential units planned, 19 are committed. Nichols expects five or six to be occupied by the end of the year.
The condos range in price from $125,000 to $440,000, and square footages range from 806-2,655 square feet. Condo maintenance fees are $3.25 per square foot annually. Floor plans range from four to seven units per floor. Two floors will be for commercial use, and four floors are used for parking.
The unit in the home tour is 1,254 square feet with two bedrooms, two baths and two parking spaces in the garage, priced at $214,900.
Nichols said most of the interest in the condos has been from young professionals and empty-nesters. One feature of the condos that may appeal to people who may not be home during the day is that mechanical rooms for each unit are accessed from the corridors, so residents don't have to be home to let in a maintenance worker.
Nichols said he and his partners invested in the project because they believed there was a market for downtown condos, which are purchased, as opposed to apartments, which are rented. “It was a leap of faith for us,” he said.
They purchased the building for $1.8 million and are investing $5 million in renovations. The investors recognized those who live downtown want nearby shopping and dining, so they are trying to line up a clinic, pharmacy or grocery on the ground floor, along with a local restaurant.
Other amenities include Anytime Fitness, which will open a facility in the basement, and an open-air patio area on the fifth floor, a shared space with tables and chairs and grills and a stunning view of the courthouse across the street.
The Ellises, who are empty-nesters, are looking forward to leaving their car in the parking garage and exploring downtown.
“Living in the suburbs, you are tied to your car,” Trish Ellis said. “We just thought we would enjoy a little bit of city life.”
Home tourWhat: Fall Town & Country New Home Tour features 21 homes, seven villas and three subdivisions, all open to the public.
When: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Oct. 6 and 7
Where: Throughout Allen County and surrounding areas
Etc.: Tour booklets are available at area Scott's, Kroger and Walmart stores, or go to www.fortwayne.com to print out a copy of the booklet or see maps that show where the properties are. The tour is presented by the Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne Newspapers; WMEE, 97.3-FM; and WQHK, K105-FM, are sponsors.