FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The current Allen County Jail building sits in downtown Fort Wayne near Promenade Park and a newly constructed apartment complex.
Plans are underway to build a new jail located outside the downtown area in the future and developers in the city see the site as potential.
The question that county officials are still determining is whether to demolish the jail or reuse the space for something else. The county is still figuring out what the cost to demolish would be or how much it costs to renovate the interior of the building for other uses.
The new jail will be built at 2911 Meyer Road.
David Nugent, a partner with BND Commercial Real Estate, said one of the biggest trends happening in cities is building mixed-use buildings, which contains both residential housing and space for retail.
“We’ve worked on a number of different projects over the years and this is one of the latest trends we’re seeing,” Nugent said.
He believes there has been plenty of mixed-use buildings constructed in the city already and others that are planned to be built, including the Riverfront at Promenade Park.
Another idea is putting in condominiums in downtown. He said there is a demand for housing that people can own rather than just rent.
“We have quite the amount of places that people can rent, but not many that can be owned,” he said. “We see lots of people wanting to downsize and relocate and would like to have their own real estate.”
Don Steininger of Steininger Development agrees there is a demand for condos in the city. He believes there is a need for luxury condos in downtown Fort Wayne.
“We really don’t have any right now. If we are able to put in medium to upper level condos where the jail is, that might be one thing that could fit,” Steininger said. “It’s a valuable piece of real estate, the size and location will be very desirable.”
While building condos could help address the needs for housing in the city, it doesn’t mean constructing them won’t come without potential challenges.
Developers have to determine what money they will put into it and weigh it against how much they will be able to get out of it. Leasing condos to people would result in getting lesser of a return on the investment in the short term. Nugent said selling condos would allow them to get a return on investment in a short time period.
Remodeling the jail building is an option, but that is very expensive to do as well. Nugent said there building most likely contains lots of concrete and steel and it would require major surgery on the interior.
“You haven’t seen developers go after the building aggressively because of the potential cost to buy the property and remodel it,” he said. “It would be more expensive to put in kitchens and bathrooms by taking down concrete walls compared to drywall buildings.”