Landing a destination for local business

If recent development projects are any indication, Fort Wayne is growing into its new identity as a hub for entrepreneurship, technology, culture, and community enrichment opportunities.

One current project checks all of these boxes is The Landing in downtown Fort Wayne.

Slated for completion in Summer 2019, The Landing will be a historic street home to new business space for entrepreneurs, retailers, restaurants, a coffee shop, and a brewery.

The Landing will be home to coffee shops and communal spaces where entrepreneurs can connect.

Above street level, seventy apartments will be available, creating room for more people to live and work within Fort Wayne’s urban core.

A century ago, The Landing was the hub of commerce and activity in Fort Wayne. The goal of the project is to revitalize this central part of Fort Wayne’s history.

Leading the development of The Landing is Cincinnati’s Model Group, which has successfully revitalized similar spaces like Over the Rhine's Gateway Quarter in Cincinnati.

Input Fort Wayne sat down with Bobby Maly, Chief Operating Officer and co-owner of Model Group, to learn more about their work and what’s happening on Columbia Street.

Plans for redeveloping The Landing include mixed-use spaces and pedestrian walkways.

IFW: Tell us about your role with Model Group, and how that plays into The Landing project.

BM: I’m one of three owners of the company. Two-thirds of the time, I’m working on development business. After development work is done, we do things like property management, fixing bricks and sticks.

In the case of The Landing, it will be working with tenants to help in what’s great for their business. We want to find tenants and businesses that help create the space.

At Model Group, our business model is long-term. We get excited about positively revitalizing neighborhoods. We take that seriously. We feel like we’re stewards of the building, and we want to make sure what we’re doing brings back life and energy to The Landing.

IFW: What are some of the ways Model Group is intentionally bringing life back to The Landing?

BM: When we describe The Landing, it will be a place where Fort Wayne entrepreneurs want to come. They’ll want to live in one of the 70 apartments.

We’ll have coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, unique retail shops, and all of them will be entrepreneurial-driven.

We will be very intentional about creating spaces for meeting and gathering, both inside the buildings and outside. And, it will be pedestrian-driven. Pedestrians will rule over cars in this block.

The Landing will have a mix of historic and new spaces.

IFW: You’ve worked on similar projects in other cities throughout the country. What has the experience been like working on a project like this in Fort Wayne?

BM: The cool thing about Fort Wayne we’ve found is that a lot of collaboration happened before we got involved.

We’ve experienced great leadership that is singing the same tune, there’s alignment between leaders, and people understand that the investment of the Harrison Corridor is really important.

All of that understanding and the seeds of investment were planted before we got here. It makes our job easier and better, so we’re playing a bigger role in just the project itself.

IFW: How will local history and character be preserved in this project?

BM: We are really good at historic preservation. We’re often taking on projects like The Landing that have sat vacant for a long time. That means we’re good problem solvers.

There are eight existing buildings in the project, and seven of those eight are historic. It’s a gut rehab.

Everything that wasn’t historic to the property is coming out. That means interior walls, drop ceilings, and bad electric wiring. But that also means the buildings are being done to historic standards.

Inside one of eight buildings being redeveloped on The Landing.

IFW: When will residents, business owners, and patrons get to enjoy these spaces?

BM: The Landing will be complete next summer. Tenants will be announced over the next 60-90 days with people starting to move in over the winter.

I hope commercial spaces come alive next spring.

IFW: Looking ahead, where do you see Fort Wayne fitting into the national landscape of potential?

BM: For decades, people have been moving back to the urban core. Because of that, they are voting with their feet. They go somewhere before they pick a job. They also travel a lot more and have certain expectations about the quality of life.

Fort Wayne has recognized the need to rebound and develop, and you can see that everywhere. Cranes, construction, the riverfront is a huge deal. Things like that make it obvious they’re investing in the urban core.

Fort Wayne has invested a lot in the previous 10 years, and I think the next 10 years will feel like a multiple of pace over the previous.

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