FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Wednesday, one of Fort Wayne’s most popular pedestrian spots opened for vehicular traffic.
This was a joint decision between the city and the Model Group, the developer of The Landing. Vehicles will have access on a trial basis to see how things go. The goal is to bring businesses more traffic. The Landing underwent renovations and after reopening became a pedestrian plaza.
City spokesman John Perlich said that since reopening about a year ago, there has been a great deal of success and excitement.
“We want to make sure that we don’t take away from the uniqueness of the Landing. This is a very unique setting. We do know some residents expressed some concerns and reservations about us taking away that unique quality, but that is not our intent,” Perlich said. “It’s to work and partner with our businesses here. Small business is the largest employer here in Fort Wayne and we want to make sure that we are doing all we can to help these businesses, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The change is not designed for people to park in the area all day. Maximum parking is 15 minutes, ideally for a quick stop to grab coffee or pick up a carryout order.
Business partners for a new Latin restaurant, Mercado, set to open December 1st, said the development downtown is bringing Fort Wayne alive. Doug and Patty Wood both are pleased with the decision for The Landing to be temporarily open to cars.
“It’s going to increase people’s awareness and let them see what is down here,” Patty Wood said. “They can park, come back and tryout different places.”
“It increases the exposure of The Landing in the community, so people in the colder weather can check it out and hopefully when the weather changes and we get to warmer seasons, the street is closed again because it’s an amazing pedestrian area,” Doug Wood said.
Andrew Freehauf, manager of Utopian Coffee & Kitchen is excited that people have another opportunity as the weather gets colder to interact with the area.
“As the temperatures dropped the pedestrian traffic has really dropped,” said Freehauf “Being in Indiana, you know we don’t have stable weather. We get four seasons and sometimes extremes, so to try to accommodate many customers as possible, especially for those folks who probably aren’t as mobile or don’t want to park far away to give them the opportunity to grab something go.”
Another concern is how the street will hold up when it comes to plowing the area during the winter. Perlich told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that the area is small and is open to one-way traffic for people entering off Calhoun on to Columbia Street and exiting on to Harrison.
“We won’t see a lot of vehicular traffic at one time, or during the day because it’s only 15-minutes in and out. If we have to plow during the winter for safety, we’ll make sure we do that in a way that does not take away from the nice new setting,” Perlich said.
The change is Monday – Friday from 7 am – 5 pm.