Anthony Wayne Building Conversion
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Anthony Wayne Building Conversion
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
In 1963, the Anthony Wayne Bank opened its doors in historic downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. Recently, after years as a multitenant financial building, when the prime location came up for grabs Todd Ramsey and his four partners were ready to capture the opportunity. “I’ve been watching this building for about six to seven years because I always thought it would be a great location,” shares Ramsey, development partner for local RCI Development (RCI), a division BND Commercial. “Once the site became available, we dove in head first.”
Ramsey and his partners purchased the bank in September 2011 with the notion to convert the building into something a little out of the ordinary in the Fort Wayne real estate market. Paying tribute to the building’s original purpose, RCI named the project the Anthony Wayne Building Conversion (Anthony Wayne), but four developers focused on turning the site from 1960s office space to modern, high-end residential condominiums for purchase -something the city had never seen before.
A First for Fort Wayne
“At first, people thought we were nuts,” recalls Ramsey. “There were a lot of skeptical people in town, especially the media because downtown had never really seen a project like this. In the early 1990s we had Midtown Crossing which was a residential development, but nothing since. There have always been apartments available but never any for-purchase properties.”
Ramsey admits that Anthony Wayne was a first for him as well. “I’ve worked on subdivisions and office complexes in the past, but nothing like this before, but we try to do things other people aren’t doing,” he says. “Three years ago, RCI built an ice arena and 11,000-square-foot restaurant and hotel next door. We followed that with a 50,000-square-foot indoor volleyball and basketball facility the next year. We like to bring interesting, different projects into the city.”
Despite the unconvinced media and some residents, RCI broke ground on the $14 million Anthony Wayne with full support from the city and local subcontractors in fall 2011. “Even though we’d never done something like this we were welcome with great cooperation from the city and the building department,” shares Ramsey. “We broke everything down to the concrete shell and basically started over from HVAC to electrical, water and sewer to windows -pretty much everything is brand new.”
The new Anthony Wayne rebuild consists of 15 stories with five floors of parking, 10 floors of residential space with 39 units and three elevators all totaling approximately 100,000 square feet. “In conjunction with the city, we’ve also closed traffic lanes on both sides of the building to widen the sidewalk,” details Ramsey. “After this is complete by mid July 2013, the whole area will be very pedestrian friendly.”
Not only is the Anthony Wayne development a new concept for Fort Wayne, the residential property also offers fully customizable units. “We’ve pretty much left the inside unfinished before purchase,” explains Ramsey. “We’ve given buyers the option to combine two or three units into one; in fact we have several right now that are about 2,700 square feet.”
Ramsey says that RCI has worked with a high-end homebuilder and architects to design personalized property. “If buyers want urban or contemporary style -we can do that,” he adds. “We’ve allowed for open ceilings, painted concrete ceilings or a combination of both. What we’re really selling is an empty box that you can do anything with.”
Although Anthony Wayne was once a bank, Ramsey and his partners are confident the units will be homey and buyers are feeling the love. “The unit has crown molding in the main living area, eco-friendly bamboo flooring, wood kitchen cabinets and quartz countertops with complementing black appliances,” shares Carol Schwartz, a recent retiree looking to move downtown with her husband Dick.
Anthony Wayne also features beautiful floor-to ceiling windows, which replaced the existing waist-height office windows. The new-and-improved energy efficient windows allow for plenty of natural light, warmth and sweeping views of the city skyline. “We went above and beyond with the windows, adding about $3 million to the project costs,” admits Ramsey. “We went from single pane to the Cadillac-so-to-speak of store front glass.”
Price tags for Anthony Wayne start in the low six figures for 806-square-foot units and up from there as the area increases in size. To the surprise of skeptics, Ramsey has found people are more than willing to pay the price for the chic downtown locale. “One of our greatest challenges was arranging the plumbing for the unit above before placing the ceiling for the unit below,” he reveals. “The units were selling so fast that we worked hard to keep up, making sure everything was in conjunction.”
The options and amenities in this prime location are virtually endless -one reason why Jordan Nichols, one Ramsey’s partners, has purchased a unit himself. Nichols 10th floor apartment overlooks the historical Allen County courthouse and downtown Fort Wayne. The 51-year-old exemplifies the heart of the project’s demographic. “Buyers are empty nesters and downsizers whose children are out of the house,” Nichols said in a Journal Gazette article. “They’re excited to be living downtown after living in the suburbs for many years.”
Nichols says that recent developments such as Parkview Field, the Embassy Theatre and Headwaters Park have added to the buzz around downtown real estate. “Parkview Field was a way to jump-start downtown, to get people back downtown evenings and weekends, and the Embassy Theatre and Headwaters Park, with the festivals, has brought some new excitement,” he reveals. “They all have caused people to come back and revisit downtown as a place to live and play.”
Ramsey attributes the projects continued success to trusted relationships with a local general contractor and homebuilder. “We’re a small big town, so everyone knows everyone,” he shares. “We knew we wanted to use local guys because we’re from this area as well.”
In 2012, Anthony Wayne RCI received the Swagger Award for downtown improvement presented by the Fort Wayne Allen County Economic Development Alliance. After some initial criticism, the Anthony Wayne Building Conversion has emerged as a downtown gem, with buyers vying for a spot on the active scene.
For more information about the Antony Wayne Building Conversion, click on the project link at: (www.rcidevelops.com)
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