The success of one downtown housing development has sparked a similar but even larger project in a vacant warehouse at 102 W. Superior St.
Indianapolis-based Real America Development bought the former Graphic Packaging International plant and will convert it into ground-floor shops and 66 loft-style apartments, according to spokesman Jeff Ryan. The company is currently converting the “Randall” building at 616 S. Harrison St. into 44 apartments, and that project has proven so popular that there are 100 people on a waiting list – an indication, Ryan said, that the market for downtown housing remains strong.
Although the current plan for “Superior Lofts” includes one- and two-bedroom apartments, the company will conduct meetings with prospective tenants to determine whether other options should be offered as well. The apartments will include full-service kitchens and laundry facilities and some common areas will also be developed, Ryan said. Whenever possible, brick walls and other original “industrial” features will be retained.
“We expect to appeal to a young demographic that considers it cool to live in the urban areas,” he added, noting that while the building is close to railroad tracks and adjacent to the Allen County Jail it is also close to the Columbia Street “Landing,” Headwaters Park and within easy walking district of downtown attractions.
Financing, cost of renovation and rent structure are still to be determined, but Ryan said the apartments will be offered at market rate, not government-subsidized.
The project would be the latest in a series of downtown housing developments that include the conversion of the former Anthony Wayne Bank into condominiums, the construction of apartments as part of the city’s Harrison Square project and the construction of apartments and condominiums as part of the forthcoming Ash Brokerage project. The city’s Redevelopment Commission is also planning a residential project west of Parkview Field.
Downtown Improvement District President Bill Brown applauded the news.
“It’s another really good sign of the interest and appetite for residential development in downtown Fort Wayne,” he said. “It’s great that we have momentum in building out these old warehouses.”
Construction could begin this summer and take about a year to complete.
Graphic Packaging closed in 2010, eliminating about 116 jobs. The building was formerly occupied by the Smurfit-Stone Co.