Lack of proposals clouds Fort Wayne’s plan to save historic building, attract new downtown restaurant

The Cambray Building at 312 S. Harrison St. is still for sale but its future is uncertain. (News-Sentinel file photo)

City officials still hope to save an historic downtown building and redevelop a parking lot near the riverfront despite a lack of proposals for a “contemporary restaurant and entertainment facility” that would have achieved both goals.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment had offered to sell the 0.28-acre site at Superior and Harrison streets to a developer willing to pay at least $158,000 for the property and at least $1 million on a project incorporating “locally inspired features which are compatible with the purposes and aesthetics of the riverfront district and the proposed Landing development.”

No proposals were received by the noon Monday deadline, however, meaning the city may now consider projects that do not meet the original guidelines, Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said.

As The News-Sentinel reported last month, the locally owned Hall’s restaurants had expressed interest in buying the 122-year-old Cambray building as 312 S. Harrison St. and moving it to the nearby Superior Street lot. Hall’s officials have declined to comment, but the Parks and Recreation Department still plans to offer the Cambray Building for sale Dec. 14 for a minimum bid of $21,850. The building had been slated for demolition months ago as part of the city’s riverfront development project but was spared after interest in its reuse surfaced.

The Superior Street lot is currently owned by Allen County, but City Council on Tuesday is expected to consider an agreement transferring ownership to the Redevelopment Commission in exchange for 31 parking spaces in the Rousseau Centre parking garage, which is jointly owned by the city and county.

The transfer would benefit Fort Wayne, the resolution states, because the Superior Street lot is a “prime location for private sector investment.” The lot is adjacent to the Columbia Street “Landing,” an historic block scheduled for a $35 million conversion into restaurants, bars, shops and apartments.