FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Renovations on a historic building in downtown Fort Wayne are underway. The Randall Lofts will have 44 apartments and retail space.
"We think there's a market there in downtown. With what we've seen, what else is going on, we thought it was a good place to do additional housing," Jeff Ryan, a development associate with RealAmerica Development, said.
RealAmerica Development is based in Carmel, Indiana, but already has several apartment complexes in Fort Wayne. The company will now add Randall Lofts to its list of properties. It will rehab the building inside and out.
"When you drive by, you'll see a building that looks pretty much like it does today. We'll do a historic rehab of it, but keep that fabric," Ryan said.
The building was built in 1905 to be part of the Randall Hotel. Over the years, it's been home to many businesses including a shoe factory, Wayne Hardware Company, and Drek Furniture.
Right now the first floor has two businesses in it: a hair salon and a coffee shop. Both are still open during construction and owners are excited to have new neighbors moving in upstairs. There are two more spots up for lease on the lower level and Ryan said he's been getting a lot of calls from interested businesses.
Floors two through five will be turned into apartments.
Randall Lofts Stats:
* 44 apartments
* One and two bedroom floor plans
* Washer and dryer in each unit
* 690 to 970 square foot units
* $250-$700 per month rent
The apartments are set to be finished in July 2014. Ryan said floor plans and renderings of what the apartments will look like inside won't be released for about five more months. Even though the ribbon cutting is ten months away, there's already a waiting list of people who want to live there.
"It's very exciting. We normally don't get them this far out. It's great," Ryan said. "There's probably going to be demand for additional [apartments] after this."
Heather Presley-Cowen, deputy director of the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services, isn't surprised by the response.
"We have young families, young singles and couples as well as empty nesters who are looking to live downtown and this provides another option," Presley-Cowen said.
Part of the appeal is the lower rent range. Other recent apartment projects downtown have rents starting around $900 a month.
"When you are building a neighborhood, you want to make sure you're inviting people of all incomes," Presley-Cowen said.
The historic charm of the building and the apartment design will also attract people to downtown.
"There will be exposed brick walls and they're called lofts because they'll be very interesting for people who live there," she said.
This development could also keep the efforts of bringing more housing to downtown going.
"It's the notion of a vibrant and prosperous downtown with places to live affordably and more places for people to come and enjoy," Bill Brown, the president of the Downtown Improvement District, said.
A market study of downtown done in 2010 found the area can absorb 181 new living units per year.
"Put The Harrison, Randall Lofts and the Anthony Wayne Building together and it's not close to that," Presley-Cowen said. "Downtown is a hot spot now."
Land west of Parkview Field is already under consideration for more housing development, but a request for proposals has not been issued yet.
The Randall Lofts renovation is a $7.8 million project, Ryan said. The city of Fort Wayne gave $600,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program 3 dollars. Of that, $450,000 is a loan that will be repaid over 30 years and $150,000 is a forgivable loan. Rental housing tax credits from the state, about $759,000 a year for ten years, is also funding the project.
Anyone interested in the Randall Lofts apartments or commercial space can call (260) 403-3832 for more information.
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