Fort Wayne’s first Innovative Housing Showcase seeks to fill gaps in the local market

Fort Wayne’s first Innovative Housing Showcase seeks to fill gaps in the local market

As an architect from Detroit, Rena Bradley noticed Fort Wayne was lacking diverse housing styles when she moved here in 2015.  At the time, she was working for Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries on the city’s Southeast side, addressing challenges in the neighborhood, like a housing shortage and a surplus of smaller, empty lots. Bradley thought that if she could bring a concept, like shipping container homes, to Fort Wayne it could benefit families and the city alike, giving residents an attainable path to homeownership and reactivating vacant lots too small for traditional housing. As an added bonus: It would give her more interesting homes to choose from, too. “I wanted to bring the type of housing to our community that I myself wanted to live in,” Bradley says. “Something...

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How Fort Wayne’s community gardens are growing more sustainable, connected neighborhoods

How Fort Wayne’s community gardens are growing more sustainable, connected neighborhoods

“I’ve met more of my neighbors in the past three to four years doing this than I have the entire 30-some years I’ve lived here.” As rent, groceries and the cost of living rise, many residents near Downtown Fort Wayne are turning to community gardens to supplement their weekly meals. “Our garden is used every day by neighbors here,” says Chris Walker, President of the Bloomingdale neighborhood, just north of Downtown along the Wells Street Corridor. “There’s somebody here at least four times a day. Food prices have increased, and we’re in a food desert where there are not a lot of healthy, affordable options.”  Walker considers Bloomingdale one of Downtown’s few affordable neighborhoods left, on the brink of ever-expanding riverfront development nearby. As property values...

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What’s happening with housing at Electric Works? We ask developers about affordability, artist lofts & more

Q&A with Kevan Biggs, President and Owner of Biggs Group A rendering of The Elex, a mixed-use housing development at Electric Works that will “wrap” around the West and North sides of the current Union Parking Garage, fronting on Broadway. (Courtesy) Kevan Biggs, President and Owner of Biggs Group, speaks at the Electric Works sign lighting event in January 2023. (Courtesy) The first housing development at Electric Works, known as the Elex, will wrap around the current Union Parking Garage, left. (Kara Hackett) The Elex will “wrap” around the West and North sides of the current Union Parking Garage, from the ground level up five stories. (Kara Hackett) The Elex is scheduled to break ground this summer, with completion in early 2025. (Kara Hackett) From the earliest days of...

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How much do you know about the inner workings of Allen County government?

How much do you know about the inner workings of Allen County government?

Q&A with consultant and educator Andrew Downs For more than a year now, a court-ordered project to expand the Allen County Jail has been a hot topic in Fort Wayne. In April 2022, a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the county to address understaffing and overcrowding issues at the current jail in Downtown Fort Wayne, saying its capacity must expand to more than 1,000 inmates. The jail is currently considered “operationally full” at 593 inmates, and at times in recent years, its capacity has exceeded 800. In response, Allen County's three commissioners, who are charged with managing the project, have said the only way to meet this demand is to build a new jail—and quickly. Since then, nearly every step of the project has prompted public outcry, from its hurried pace of development, to...

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Who’s unhoused in Fort Wayne? Often, it’s mothers and those escaping abuse without social networks

Who’s unhoused in Fort Wayne? Often, it’s mothers and those escaping abuse without social networks

Sharon Tucker, Executive Director of Vincent Village, in front of the Sally Weigand Community Center. (Rachel Von Stroup) When Angela Skelton left an abusive relationship about 12 years ago, she moved to Fort Wayne to live with her parents. Since then, sometimes working three jobs at a time, she’s managed to save enough money to move into a two-bedroom apartment with two of her children. But when her rent went up $300 a month in late 2019 and her third son moved home at the beginning of the pandemic, they needed more space. That commenced an apartment hunt in Fort Wayne, which Skelton says lasted nearly two years. ‘It felt like another job,” she says. “As the price of rent goes up and the number of houses available goes down, it’s getting harder and harder to find somewhere to live.”...

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