CIB to take over ‘fast-food block’

December 7, 2018

Restaurants in the so-called fast-food block along the north side of West Jefferson Boulevard just west of Grand Wayne Center will soon have a new landlord : the Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board.

The board approved a purchase agreement Thursday for the land that contains King Gyros, Rally’s and Taco Bell.

The $6 million deal will ensure Grand Wayne, otherwise landlocked, has room to expand, although there are no immediate plans, Jim Cook, board president, said during the meeting. 

Board member and real estate developer Don Steininger told The Journal Gazette after the vote that the restaurants would remain for some time. But they would pay rent to the board instead of the entities that now own the land.

The land could be used for parking or other expansion. The board eyed the property for a downtown arena but shelved that plan.

The two lots that hold the three restaurants were subject to a formal purchase option with Summit Development Corp., whose principals are city officials involved in development matters. The agreement was set to expire at the end of this month. 

The board’s purchase will come in two stages : with 3.5 million for Taco Bell within 36 months, Steininger said.

The transaction’s structure would allow for due diligence on the properties, including environmental studies and appraisals, he said. Details are still being worked out, the board was told.

Also accommodated would be the CIB’s current cash-flow situation, John Stafford, board consultant, pointed out.

Cash currently is tight because of a $45 million bond approved last month for Electric Works, the revitalization of the former General Electric campus along Broadway south of downtown, he said.

The CIB is funded by food and beverage taxes.

Steininger said the restaurants’ rent amounts had not been determined. The land is currently owned by Webster Building LLC and 330 West Jefferson LLC, both of which are controlled by George B. Huber, Steininger said.

The board also learned from Eric Robertson of Delight Restaurant Group, Fort Wayne, that the Taco Bell restaurant building had recently been sold to that company.

Steininger said that sale likely would not have an effect on the purchase agreements.

In other business, the board:

• Voted to modify the scope of work allowed under an up to $7 million bond issue to expand the Civic Center garage.

The changes would enhance the exterior, possibly including illumination, and improve the aesthetics of the more than 30-year-old structure.

The changes are pending more information on cost, said Nancy Townsend, director of Fort Wayne’s Redevelopment Commission. The board previously authorized borrowing to add two floors and about 225 spaces to the structure at the northeast corner of Calhoun Street and West Jefferson Boulevard.

• Voted for a technical change in the mechanics of implementing its funding commitment for Fox & Main LLC, an entity working on Provenance Hotels’ downtown boutique hotel at Main and Harrison streets.  

• Learned Steve Brody, board secretary, would be leaving the board because he has bought a home in the Indianapolis area and will be moving.


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