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The Journal Gazette

Trust adds to holdings on The Landing

Nonprofit buying 5th property in historic downtown block

– The Downtown Development Trust has signed an agreement to buy a fifth property on West Columbia Street – an area known as The Landing – and is considering a sixth, Mac Parker said Tuesday.

Parker, the trust’s chairman, said officials have a written agreement to acquire the three-parcel piece that includes the Red Rok BBQ & Bourbon Lounge building.

The street numbers are 119, 123 and 125 W. Columbia St.

Parker declined to reveal the sale price, which will be disclosed in public documents if the sale closes.

Parker cautioned that the deal is subject to various conditions. It’s unclear whether the restaurant would remain in place, move or close.

The nonprofit trust acquired four properties on the same street earlier this year: 110, 114, 122 and 131 W. Columbia St. Although specific plans haven’t been made, the general goal is to use the buildings’ upper floors for residential space and the lower floors for entertainment such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Design Collaborative, a local architecture firm, is creating a short video highlighting some options for the area, Parker said. Trust officials are almost ready to talk to developers, he said.

The Landing is a local music haven that, over the years, has been the site of block parties, Mardi Gras festivals and other events. The sycamore-lined street, which borders a former canal that operated in the 1840s and 1850s, has historic significance for the city.

A sixth property, 118 W. Columbia St., has been put on the market with an $850,000 asking price.

“We’ve given some thought to it,” Parker said. “We haven’t made a complete decision on it. It just recently came on the market.”

One sticking point may be the gap between the assessed value of about $500,000 and the asking price.

Parker said the assessed value doesn’t necessarily reflect the market value of a property, however. Trust officials get a professional appraisal before making an offer.

He acknowledged that it’s tough to negotiate favorable terms after property owners know the trust is buying property in a particular area.

Flashback Building AT LLC is listed as owner of the property, which is home to Flashback on the Landing, a retro nightclub open 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

So far, trust officials have tapped two sources to buy the first four properties: a $1 million grant from the city, and a community development fund created with federal money.

The trust also has access to money from the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, pending approval. Individual deals would have to be approved by a foundation subcommittee.

The Downtown Development Trust played a critical role in acquiring land for the $98 million Ash Brokerage headquarters, residential, retail and parking project that’s been dubbed Emerald Skyline.

sslater@jg.net

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