The Journal Gazette

A high-rise apartment building with a pickleball court as an amenity?

It could happen at a northeast Fort Wayne site where developers have gone back to the drawing board for repurposing the former Verizon office building just off East Coliseum Boulevard.

Work recently started to gut the building’s interior and replace its aging windows to transform the five-story office structure near IPFW and Ivy Tech into The Community at Triangle Park. The site is just west of Hall’s Triangle Park restaurant.

The building is planned to have 60 one- and two-bedroom units and 8 studios, said Rosie Freeman, property manager.

With an address of 2827 Rupp Drive, the building had been vacant for some time when Fort Wayne developers BND Development last April said they intended to turn the property into senior living with a shopping center and a small parking garage.

However, that proposal was withdrawn when Park Center, a Fort Wayne behavioral health center, announced interest in the site for use as a drug addiction treatment center. Those plans were withdrawn in August after neighbors objected.  Park Center then got approval for a site in New Haven across from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department’s annex.

Now planned for the Rupp Drive building are market-rate apartments, Freeman said. No decision has been made on how the units will be marketed – as a 55-and-up community, student housing or just general rentals, she said.

Several kinds of amenities are being discussed for the first floor she said – including a fitness center, a hair and/or nail salon, a barber shop, coffee shop, patio with gas grills,  billiards area, theater room and pickleball court.

“Pickleball is really popular right now,” she said, adding it might be a draw for seniors.

High-end finishes – granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and walk-in closets –  also are planned, Freeman said. She compared the look of the units to those at The Harrison, the apartment building that abuts Parkview Field.

Apartment layouts are being planned to bear the names of historic Fort Wayne theaters – the Emboyd (now The Embassy), the Rialto, the Quimby and the Paramount.

“What is going to be really cool is the windows will go floor to ceiling so the units will all be very light and airy,” she said.

Developers plan to power wash the buildings’ facades and resurface the parking lot, Freeman said.  Interior demolition and window installation has already started, and if all goes well, the building will be ready in six to nine months, she said.

According to applications filed previously with the Department of Planning Services, the 73,000-square-foot building is about 50 years old. The current project is being done by JATS LLC, Tippmann & Dumas LLC and BND, according to Todd Ramsey, partner.

It could not be determined Monday if developers will need any approvals from the Fort Wayne Plan Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals.

Rezoning was required for both the commercial center and the drug treatment facility because the land, about 4.4 acres, had been zoned multiple-family residential. The new use would fit that zoning classification.