Come April, shops will be open on The Landing after its $32 million 3-year project.

The place where canal boat passengers trod the city street is still undergoing construction, but residents have moved into the new apartment buildings and all the first-floor retail spaces are spoken for.

Caleb Young, 30, was the first tenant in the new apartments at The Landing.

“It feels like I’m living in a new city,” said Young, who’s actually lived in Fort Wayne for four years.

Moving from the Lakeside/Coliseum Boulevard area, the summer has been great since the nearby Promenade Park opened.

“That has been amazing,” Young said.

After a hard’s day’s work he just walks a block to the park for a drink at Trubble Riverside Café & Tap and walks along the river.

Most weekends a festival has been going on downtown. And despite the occasional late-night partier, things have been pretty quiet, he said. His building’s walls are pretty thick, so he can’t hear his neighbors, but they’ve gotten together. Some are millennials. Others are empty nesters and retirees who wanted to downsize.

The most noise has been coming from the construction crews.

“Those guys start pretty early,” he said.

At 1 p.m. Oct. 24, The Model Group, developer for The Landing on West Columbia Street, Greater Fort Wayne and other representatives will gather for the completion of the street’s conversion from vehicle to solely foot traffic.

It took a little longer than expected to complete.

“It was complicated doing the streetscapes while the buildings were underway,” said Bobby Maly, COO and principal with the Model Group, the Cincinnati developer that has undertaken the historic restoration of seven buildings and the construction of one new building at 111 W. Columbia St. as part of the project.

The company has announced several occupants for the retail spaces, including its partnership with Cunningham Restaurant Group to create a luxury farm-to-fork restaurant called the Marquee on The Landing, Utopian Coffee Roasters, a brewery with another space expected to be announced as of press time.

“We’ve got leases or leases out to every single one of the first-floor spaces,” Maly said. “We’re not actually marketing any first-floor retail spaces at this point.”

The company has begun leasing a different apartment building each month. One apartment was available in the buildings at 123 and 131 W. Columbia and leasing is underway in 110, 114 and 118, he said.

“It’s great for the urban core. I don’t think people in Fort Wayne are that different than they are in Indianapolis or Cincinnati. They want to live in a great urban environment.”

By the end of the year, Maly expects some offices and a couple of the retail spaces open or close. The main construction will be done at the end of October, with build-outs on the retail space going on until spring.

“Most of the spaces will open in April, in the spring,” he said. “Most of the retail, it will really start to feel like it’s coming alive in earnest in April.”

The Landing was the central business district of Fort Wayne because of its proximity to the Wabash and Erie Canal and later the railroad, according to the Model Company. The block is home to many Fort Wayne firsts, including the first post office (1820), hotel (1823), newspaper (1833), theater (1851) and railway station (1853).

Lisa Esquivel Long is a veteran Fort Wayne journalist and Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly editor. To submit items, send email to or call 260-426-2640. ext. 3311.

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