The Rialto Theater and a 19th-century home believed to contain timbers from the original Fort Wayne are among 13 local structures awarded 2014 Commercial Fašade Grants by Mayor Tom Henry Wednesday. The grants total $303,859 and will be matched by more than $1.1 million in privately funded improvements.
In a statement, Henry said the program “helps local businesses invest in our community and provide a welcoming atmosphere for their customers, (ensuring that) our commercial corridors remain vibrant.”
The Rialto, a 700-seat theater at 2614 S. Calhoun St., closed in 1989 and has been under renovation for the past decade by a group called the Reclamation Project, which hopes to convert the building into an agency to help local refugees.
The house at 520 Tennessee Ave., meanwhile, was built around 1854 by Dr. Merchant Huxford, and local folklore says some of its timbers were salvaged from the old fort, the last remnants of which were razed around that time. Historic preservation group ARCH acquired the property last year and intends to renovate the house.
Wednesday's news conference was held at Coe Heating & Air Conditioning, 3300 Lower Huntington Road, which will update its fašade, create new window openings, replace old windows, install a new entrance, new signage and more.
The program began in 2008 and is designed to assist business owners in making improvements to the exterior of their commercial properties. Enhancements can include new siding, architectural features, signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing and more. The city requires applicants to provide a dollar-for-dollar match in order to receive the grant. Between 2009 and 2013, the city awarded $1.07 million in grant funding, which leveraged more than $2.9 million of private investment. A total of 63 projects have been completed or are almost completed since the program was introduced.
Other projects awarded grants Wednesday include the building at 1925 and 1927 S. Calhoun St.; the building at 2228 S. Calhoun St.; the Anthony Wayne Village Shopping Center, 4301-4355 S. Anthony Blvd.; Broadway Joe's, 2514 Broadway; Colony Shops of Waynedale, 6415-6441 Bluffton Road; Curly's Village Inn, 4205 Bluffton Road; “New to You” Building, 1542 Sherman Blvd.; the Anthony Medical Building, 5717 S. Anthony Blvd.; TekVenture (former Allen County Sweeper Co.), 1800 Broadway; and the Waynedale News Building, 2505 Lower Huntington Road.