Demolition of old police headquarters comes amid controversy

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- The city of Fort Wayne plans to begin tearing down the old police station on Creighton Avenue Thursday.

The building has been vacant for several years. The property owner, the McMillen Foundation, asked the city to help tear it down after having trouble finding a developer. The city first tried finding a developer to reuse the building but the project was too costly to take on.

Councilman Glynn Hines said it is like the Charles Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” The city is investing millions of dollars into downtown development but Hines is concerned that development on the southeast side is being ignored.

“There’s a heavy focus on downtown… That’s the best of times,” he said. “Worst of times you have total neglect of economic development on the southeast side.”

Hines has been working with a group of activists who are trying save the old police headquarters. Community Activist Donita Mudd has led the charge for over a year.

“This mayor… this administration has just been hell bent on demolishing that building and putting another vacant lot in southeast Fort Wayne,” she said.

Mudd planned to tour the building with the historic preservation group, Indiana landmarks, on Friday. The news of demolition could put a halt to those plans.

“He needs to see the building,” she said. “But we need to know that when they take the time to come to Fort Wayne that the building will not be in the process of being demolished.”

Councilman Hines and Mudd are asking for the city to delay the plans to tear down the meeting. Councilman Hines said he has asked for a meeting with Mayor Tom Henry but hasn’t heard back yet. Instead, he received notification demolition would begin Thursday.

“I’m calling the mayor and I’m asking [him] where in the hell is this meeting we should be having on Friday,” said Hines. “If we’re not going to have this meeting, there’s going to be hell to pay.”

Hines said he is frustrated with the city’s plans to move forward without hearing from the citizens first.

“Why wouldn’t you have that meeting? Why wouldn’t you have that discussion? At minimum,” he said. “You’re sending the wrong message to my community and that’s not right.”

City Spokesman John Perlich told Newschannel 15 Tuesday evening that the buildings are not able to be redeveloped because of the condition of the structures. The McMillen Foundation, who owns the buildings, have asked the city to help tear them down.

Perlich said approval for demolition has been received and barriers are scheduled to be put in place on Thursday. He said it will be a “time consuming” process that will take a number of months to be completed. Interior work will begin first.