BREAKING NEWS: New Road access proposed at Jefferson Pointe; new industrial space planned near Fort Wayne International Airport

Parts of Jefferson Pointe are accessible only by foot, buut that will change if owners get their way. ( file photo)
Creation of an economic development area helped bring Franklin Electric to southwest Allen County a few years ago. Now officials are hoping to do the same with more than 220 acres along Airport Expressway. (Courtesy image)

It didn’t take long for the new owners of Jefferson Pointe to pursue a dramatic change to the nature of the “lifestyle” mall at West Jefferson Boulevard and Illinois Road.

Kansas-based RED Development, which bought the 66 acre property from Institutional Mall Investors in March after building the center about 20 years ago, has asked the Fort Wayne Plan Commission for permission to construct a street through the center of the facility — an area now reserved for pedestrians.

Jeff McMahon of RED explained in the application that “Tenants and visitors now prefer lifestyle centers with vehicular access through the project. This creates a more vibrant ‘downtown’ feel and will help with the enhancement of the property. The project will enhance the accessibility of the existing shopping center while maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for pedestrians.”

Jefferson Pointe currently features streets on its perimeter, with stores on the central courtyard accessible on foot. The proposed drive would include a roundabout and storefront parking.

Minnesota-based Continental Property Group, meanwhile, is seeking permission to erect six buildings totaling about 500,000 square feet near Fort Wayne International Airport. The 66-acre site is among the 223 airport-owned acres being designated as an “economic development area” by the Allen County Redevelopment Commission. As The News-Sentinel reported in July, the designation would allow for creation of a tax increment financing (TIF) district that would allow taxes generated by improvements to pay for roads, utilities and other improvements.

The application did not list possible tenants, and officials with Continental, which is building the $60 million “Riverview” project in downtown Fort Wayne and was the sole firm to submit a development proposal for the “North River” property, were unavailable for comment. County Director of Redevelopment Elissa McGauley said the proposed buildings could be “speculative” in nature, meaning they could be erected with unfinished interiors to be completed by tenants needing to relocate or expand quickly.