Deal gives historic Baltes building a new owner and Fort Wayne Parks department land it wants for downtown riverfront development

The Fort Wayne Parks Department's board of park commissioners voted Thursday to sell the historic Baltes building, in red brick, to Hall's Restaurants an a deal that also included Hall's selling the parks department land on the north bank of the St. Marys River. Hall's most move the Baltes building from its current location on land being transformed into Promenade Park along the St. Marys River between Wells and Harrison streets in downtown Fort Wayne. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

The historic Baltes building has a new owner and will be moving to a new home, and the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department has land it wanted on the north bank of the St. Marys River for downtown riverfront development.

The parks department’s board of park commissioners approved both transactions during their meeting Thursday afternoon at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

Hall’s Restaurants bought the Baltes building and must move it by Jan. 31 from its current location at 312 S. Harrison St., said Steve McDaniel, parks department deputy director of asset management. The building stands in land being developed for the city’s Promenade Park along the south bank of the St. Marys River, between the Historic Wells Street Bridge and Harrison Street.

Hall’s had expressed interest a few months ago in buying and moving the Baltes building, a red brick structure dating to about 1895. The building, which most recently was part of the Cambray Associates complex, was scheduled for demolition this fall to make way for construction of Promenade Park.

After Hall’s Restaurants’ inquiry about buying and moving the Baltes building, the park board agreed to let the parks department negotiate a possible sale of the building, which officials originally thought could be completed by this fall.

Those negotiations weren’t settled until recently, however, leading construction crews to work around the Baltes building at the Promenade Park site. In the past few weeks, however, workers took down the modern building additions that had been constructed on each side of the Baltes building.

In the meantime, the parks department learned the Hall family owned land containing the Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot business on Cass Street on the north side of the St. Marys River. The property included the land between the building and the St. Marys River.

The parks department wants the land along the riverbank for riverfront development on the north side of the river across from Promenade Park.

After getting the required two appraisals before a government entity can sell or purchase a piece of property, the two parties agreed Hall’s will pay $2,570 and sell the north river bank property, which had an average appraised value of $19,280, to the parks department in return for the Baltes building, which had an average appraisal value of $21,850.

In other riverfront development news:

• McDaniel said the parks department hopes by middle to late January to receive permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do construction work in the St. Marys River at the riverfront park site.

Plans call for construction of concrete docks on both the south and north banks of the St. Marys River at Promenade Park, he said.

• Construction is underway on the Fort Wayne Park Foundation Pavilion in Promenade Park. Masonry walls are taking shape now, and structural steel installation should begin in early January, McDaniel said.

• The parks department hopes by late January to release requests for proposals for design work for Phases II and III of downtown riverfront development, said Mark Becker, deputy director of riverfront. The future phases will extend riverfront development west as far as the Van Buren Street bridge over the St. Marys River.

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