More than a job: Meet The Landing's project manager who moved to Fort Wayne

As a Project Manager for Cincinnati's Model Group, Matthew Cowan is working on The Landing in downtown Fort Wayne, but that's not all. He and his wife and kids actually moved to the Fort Wayne area from Cincinnati about a year ago because he believes in the Summit City's potential.

While “the Queen City,” might have more amenities, Cowan says Fort Wayne is exceeding his expectations so far. 

“It's been a lot of fun," Cowan says. "We love Fort Wayne. The kids have a blast. There’s lots of stuff to do.” Matthew Cowan

Cowan grew up in and around his family business in the construction industry. When it was time to attend college, he pursued a degree in construction management at the nearby Northern Kentucky University. 

Following graduation, he worked in the industry again for a few years before coming on board at the Cincinnati-based Model Group, the tour de force behind The Landing's historic renovation.

Model Group is an integrated property development, construction, and management company with a passion for revitalizing urban neighborhoods. It's known for redeveloping properties and following through to ensure that its projects maintain success in the long-run.

In Cowan's case, there's now even more of a vested interest in Fort Wayne's future. He has been with the Model Group for five years, and he’s excited about the positive momentum the company has created through its work. 

"The Landing is nothing short of what we do on a regular basis,” Cowan says.

For example, the Model Group was on the forefront of bringing Cincinnati's historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood back to life. Before its restoration, Over-the-Rhine was called the most dangerous neighborhood in America.

The Model Group was able to restore not only its physical spaces, but also its sense of community.

“Our mission statement at Model Group is about positively transforming communities, and that's definitely what we do,” Cowan says.

Cowan expects The Landing to be finished in the third quarter of 2019.

Although he doesn’t draw many parallels between Fort Wayne and Cincinnati as a whole, he does see some commonalities in that community support drives growth when it comes to projects like The Landing. 

He says that the prevailing attitude of “it takes a village” to build something in Fort Wayne is to not be understated either.

“Everyone I encounter (here) is just so nice and supportive and welcoming,” he says, noting that City staff have been especially accommodating. 

That working relationship with stakeholders is critical to moving the project forward. 

“With a project of this magnitude, there's a lot going on,” Cowan says. “We're working on everything on the West Columbia Street block, except for the four corners."

Within that space, there are going to be 70 apartments, and Cowan says some of these living spaces coming could be opening in early summer. Others will be ready by fall. Cowan says he anticipates the project to be fully complete sometime in the third quarter of the year. 

Other aspects of the project will include a coffee shop, brewery, and more commercial tenants to be announced. 

In its heyday, Columbia Street had everything from banks, to bakeries, taverns, playhouses, tobacco shops, and more.

"It was home to the city’s first newspaper, post office, railway station, hotel, and theater," Input reported in October 2018. 

Given that legacy and richness, Cowan says it's an honor to be in his position.

“I really do enjoy bringing these historic buildings back life,” he says. “It’s cool to imagine what the (buildings) were a hundred years ago. We're saving a lot of that historic fabric. So, bringing it back to life is just another really neat feature of what we do."

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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