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W. Washington Blvd. homes get modernized features in West Central Historic District

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Town & Country New Home and Specialty Retail Tour

What: Thirty-two homes, eight villas, one subdivision and one specialty retailer will be featured on the annual Town & Country New Home and Special Retail Tour. At some homes, you also will be able to speak to a representative from a vendor specializing in heating and cooling, flooring, lighting, financing, and other home needs.

When: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and May 4-5.

Where: Locations around Allen County. For directions, use the guide book inserted last week in The News-Sentinel; go to www.fortwayne.com and scroll down to the link for the tour; or get one from free publications racks at Kroger, Scott's and Walmart stores.

Cost: Free admission

Homes will be open during this weekend's Town & Country New Home and Specialty Retail Tour.

Friday, April 26, 2013 - 9:40 am

Potential buyers on the upcoming Town & Country New Home and Specialty Retail Tour will get a bit of a surprise in homes they'll view in West Central Historic District – modern open-concept floor plans.

Developer Ric Zehr of the Belay Group worked with the city to turn four eyesores into sparkling gems.

The homes at 815 and 817 W. Washington Blvd. were torn down and new ones put up, and Zehr said he spent quite a bit of time finding a plan for an architectural style that fit the historic neighborhood while repositioning the homes onto equal lots.

Houses at 823 and 825 were rehabbed, and the latter was sold last summer. Only the home at 815 is officially on the tour, but 817 and 823 will also be open for viewing.

“The nice part is it's brand-new construction … (and) we have today's current floor plans,” he said.

To accomplish that in the rehabs, walls were removed, as were a couple of chimneys that were replaced with ventless fireplaces, he said. Not all the historic fixtures could be salvaged in the state of dilapidation that the homes were in. One had been destroyed inside by fire. However, the home at 823 has a restored entryway and main staircase with hardwood that was found under carpeting, Zehr said.

The homes at 815 and 817 cost $130,000 each to rebuild but will be for sale for $88,000 each. To accomplish that, the project got gap funding from Housing and Urban Development, Zehr said. Each home has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a full basement, and is roughly 1,650 square feet. The home at 823 is for sale for $85,000.

The project not only makes the homes ready to occupy, but also turns them into single-family homes.

Zehr credits all the groups involved for making the project a reality. Without the partnership from the city of Fort Wayne and Belay Group, one of downtown Fort Wayne's major corridors might not have been restored.

Adam Miller of The News-Sentinel contributed to this story.