Owner of former police HQ building calls for demolition; set for next week

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A historic building on Fort Wayne’s southeast side that once was the headquarters of a gas pump company and the Fort Wayne Police Department will be demolished.

John Perlich, spokesman for the city of Fort Wayne, said just after 5 p.m. Thursday that the owner group of the Bowser buildings at 1302 Creighton Ave. has indicted it wants the buildings torn down.

Work began on Thursday, March 17 to demolish the Bowser buildings, once used as the Fort Wayne police headquarters.

Work to tear down the dilapidated, 60,000 square foot building began two weeks ago. It was halted a week ago, though, as Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry met with City Councilman Glynn Hines, representatives from Indiana Landmarks and community activist Donita Mudd about potentially saving the building.

The building was initially the corporate headquarters of the S.F. Bowser Company, a manufacturer of gas pumps. Sylvanus Freelove Bowser invented the first self-measuring gas pump and founded the company in 1885. The building later housed the Fort Wayne Police Department.

After last week’s meeting, Indiana Landmarks, an organization that saves, restores and repurposes historic buildings, set out to begin a dialogue with the McMillen Foundation, which owns the buildings to discuss the whether Indiana Landmarks might be able to purchase the property or find a developer.

Perlich said Thursday, though, that the McMillen Foundation told the city that it wants the buildings demolished and has communicated the desire with Indiana Landmarks. The city will support that, Perlich said.

Demolition will begin next week, Perlich said. The process will take “a number of months” to complete, he added.

“The City of Fort Wayne appreciates the hard work and dedication displayed by community advocates who were supportive of possible redevelopment opportunities,” Perlich said in a statement. “However, efforts over several years have not led to a developer expressing interest in the properties due to the conditions of the structures.

“Instead of allowing the buildings to further deteriorate, we want to ensure that the property is an asset to the neighborhood and can be used for recreation purposes by the Renaissance Pointe YMCA.”