$6 million deal provides space for future Grand Wayne Center Expansion — not an arena

Once eyed as the location for a new downtown arena, this block to the west of the Grand Wayne Center could allow room for expansion of the center, public space or commercial development. (File photo by John McGauley)

A $6 million land deal will ensure the Grand Wayne Center has room to expand — when the time comes.

Although there are currently no plans to do so, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board Thursday agreed to buy the so-called “fast food block” immediately to the west of the convention center, which is currently studying its future space needs. Without the purchase, the Grand Wayne Center essentially would be landlocked.

The city of Fort Wayne had secured an option to purchase the property that had to be exercised by Dec. 31. As The News-Sentinel reported in April, the block — once the preferred spot for a new downtown arena — is no longer being considered for that purpose.

The CIB last month approved a $45 million bond for the Electric Works project, straining its flow of cash generated by the local food and beverage tax. To compensate, the land purchase would be done in two stages, board member Don Steininger said: $2.5 million next summer and $3.5 million within 36 months.

The sale is subject to appraisals and environmental inspection.

The block is currently home to a Taco Bell, Rally’s, King Gyros and other tenants which will be allowed to remain, and pay rent to the CIB, until the property is needed for another purpose.