Growth begets growth in the Dupont-Diebold area

When you think about factors that signify Fort Wayne's growth over the last decade, downtown development might come to mind.

But further north, the Dupont-Diebold Road intersection is another area that's heating up as a mecca for economic development with incredible potential for the city's 46845 zip code.

The Allen County Redevelopment Commission reported in 2017 that the Dupont Diebold area's population has grown by 32 percent since 2000.

To understand this growth, you have to look to the past for context.

As the region's largest healthcare provider, Parkview Health has been an “anchor” in the area from the outset, and it continues to add to its vitality.

Ben Miles, president of Parkview Regional Medical Center and Affiliates, says the hospital system first ventured to Dupont Road about six years ago. That was around the time of the construction of Parkview North–what’s now known as the Parkview Regional Health Center. 

Today, the investment is a full-blown medical campus that includes the hospital, the Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, Manchester University's pharmacy school, and the newly opened 125,000 square-foot Cancer Institute.

The Parkview Cancer Institute is among the newest additions to the campus.

Miles says, over the years, Parkview Health has invested nearly one billion dollars into the 117-acre campus, but that only tells part of the story.

“(W)e have upwards of 9,000-10,000 people (on campus) every day,” he says. “That’s like having the population of Columbia City (here) on any given day of the week.”

According to data provided by the hospital system, the workforce has grown about 20 percent every year since 2013, from about 3,100 to more than 3,700 staff currently. 

Miles says that has undoubtedly meant attracting “top talent,” who in turn often make their home in the Northwest Allen County Schools district and contribute to the tax base there.

This investment strengthens the surrounding schools and, by extension, the quality of city's education, he adds. 

Speaking of investment, Miles says one infrastructure project, in particular, has been a boon for businesses and residents alike.

The addition of the I-69/Union Chapel Road interchange has shaved off commute times for patients, while also easing traffic and congestion. He credits the Indiana Department of Transportation for taking a proactive approach to working with the traffic flow. 

Now, the right combination of people and accessibility are in place to give rise to new businesses.

Brian Till, owner of the local coffee shop Mocha Lounge, is among those business owners who stand to benefit from the Dupont Diebold area's activity.

With a popular Southwest location since 2004, Till is in the process of opening a second location for Mocha Lounge on Dupont Road. The same building will also house a second location for another local business, InTouch Salonspa.

Till says the reason for the northern expansion of his coffee shop is twofold. For one, his team gauged customer feedback, and there was sincere interest in a second location on this side of town.

“That area seems so much like our current shop, as far as demographics and lots of growth from everyone we talked to,” he says. 

The other reason is more personal.

Till’s wife Rachel gave birth to their son in June 2012 at Parkview North. They spent 10 days at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and didn’t want to leave his side.

But both being coffee lovers, they missed their favorite beverage. (There were no coffee shops nearby to satisfy their cravings at the time.) So it was a lightbulb moment for Till, who saw an opportunity. 

Fast-forward to 2018, and he is energized and ready accommodate new customers when they open sometime this fall.

He’s optimistic that being close to the Parkview medical campus will bring in a steady flow of traffic. On top of that, he anticipates catering to Manchester University pharmacy students, as well, with plans for a layout conducive to studying. 

Ultimately, he’d like to replicate the success of the Covington Road store by continuing to offer a consistent experience in an up-and-coming part of town.

“We just want to offer great friendly service with excellent drinks and have that community that we currently have," Till says.
 

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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