FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The sounds of a wrecking ball filled the air downtown Thursday afternoon as crews began demolition leading to the construction of a new Rescue Mission.
The former warehouse and 412 Sports Bar and Grille operated at the southeast corner of Lafayette Street and Washington Blvd. The spot of land and empty buildings were acquired by The Rescue Mission.
“We are excited about the future,” City Councilman Russ Jehl said while standing among other city leaders and staff members of The Rescue Mission.
“This is the first step in a long process of really constructing a facility whose purpose is to simply take care of the needs of the poor and the homeless and to allow people to get back on their feet,” Rev. Donovan Coley, director of The Rescue Mission said.
Coley has been hard at work over the past couple of years putting the pieces together to make the move possible. That move that will benefit many as The Rescue Mission is busting at the seams.
“Last night it was full,” Coley said. “Here we are, it’s September 13th and we had 45 guys already lined up on cots in our chapel. By the time it gets colder, folks will be lining up in the hallways. We really need additional space.”
The new facility will triple the size of the current building. It will also offer better access to resources around the community.
“Their vision is big and it’s bold. It’s aggressive,” Eric Doden of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. said.
More than $10 million more will be needed to get the building up and running. Greater Fort Wayne is helping find the funds.
“We’re trying to improve Fort Wayne into a nationally recognized economy, to do that, it’s really exciting to have partners like Donovan who are bringing a nationally recognized Rescue Mission as part of the process. This will be an exciting journey for our community.”
Questions have been raised about the mission opening across Washington Blvd. from a new liquor store. According to Coley, the design has the entrance on the south side of the building, on the opposite side from the store. Resident windows will also face south. Only staff offices will face the store.
“We are positioning the Rescue Mission to be a major player in getting folks back with their families, reconnected with their kids and become better people in the city of Fort Wayne,” Coley added.