All Around Downtown: Arts anchor northeast quadrant

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Big improvements are coming to Arts United campus along Main Street. The projects follow the completion of the renovated Anthony Wayne Building on Clinton Street.

Both the arts campus and Anthony Wayne Building call the northwest quadrant of downtown Fort Wayne home. That area is the focus of the second part of a special NewsChannel 15 series keeping track of downtown projects called “All Around Downtown.”

COLUMBIA PATHWAY

“I feel like within the next few years Fort Wayne is going to be a vibrant town,” Summit City resident Kris Church said. “We’re starting to turn in that direction but in a few years, I think we’ll be really good.”

The space along elevated railroad tracks downtown is the focus of the future Columbia Pathway.
The space along elevated railroad tracks downtown is the focus of the future Columbia Pathway.

A sign of turning in the right direction are literally, signs. While new decorations adorn the elevated railroad on the north side of downtown, the tracks are still a bit of an eyesore. A new project is hoping to change that.

“One thing we’re excited about is called the Columbia Pathway, in conjunction with Arts United.” Bill Brown from the Downtown Improvement District added.

“We think this will come together in a significant way to sort of have a ‘roll-out the welcome mat’ to Lakeside and North Side,” Brown said.

The Columbia Pathway will play a key role for the arts campus along Main Street, by connecting the Columbia Street Bridge to Columbia Street West, ensuring the arts are not forgotten in downtown development.

A drawing shows what the Columbia Pathway could look like. (Photo: Arts United)
A drawing shows what the Columbia Pathway could look like. (Photo: Arts United)

“The arts community has been active in downtown for 50 years, so we’ve gone from the highs to the lows and back into the highs,”  Arts United VP of Community Development Dan Ross said.

When it’s done, the pathway will allow people to walk and bike to and from the arts campus crossing Clinton Street, through the Rousseau Centre, and along the tracks, which will get an artistic face-lift.

ARTS UNITED BUILDING

“When I was younger, no one came downtown,” Fort Wayne resident Julie Butts said. “Now people want to support the arts and small businesses. I think it’s amazing.”

The Arts United Center along Main Street will soon be undergoing improvements.
The Arts United Center along Main Street will soon be undergoing improvements.

The pathway isn’t the only improvement fans of the arts will see. The Louis Kahn designed arts United Center is getting some needed upgrades.

“It is a masterpiece, but it’s about 45 years old now and it needs to be updated for a 21st centrury use,” Ross added.

Those updates are being planned right now. Designs for the work are expected to be complete this summer with work to follow.

ANTHONY WAYNE BUILDING

“We’ve had a lot of clients call looking to come downtown,” Adam Hand from Beckman Lawson, LLP said.

“We’ve helped them with their leases and moving downtown. It’s exciting to see,” he added.

A renovated Anthony Wayne Building stands along Clinton Street, across from the Allen County Courthouse.
A renovated Anthony Wayne Building stands along Clinton Street.

One of those spots people have been moving to is the Anthony Wayne Building across Clinton Street from the courthouse.

Over the past couple of years, the old bank building was transformed to a mixed-use facility.

Luxury condos fill the upper stories, while businesses have opened at street level.

Restaurant The Hoppy Gnome has contributed to downtown night life, while a RediMed clinic and workout facility focus on health of nearby residents.

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The next report in the “All Around Downtown” series will focus on the area southwest of the Allen County Courthouse.