Two real estate agents involved in converting a historic Queen Anne home in downtown Fort Wayne into six condos say the spaces will have high-end touches.
Melissa Maddox and Ben Wahli of the Maddox-Wahli Team, with North Eastern Group Realty, and financing from the Kovas/Walburn family, created WMW Development and hired local designer Rich Hersha and Grinsfelder and Associates to convert the three-story home from lax to luxe.
The house at 801 W. Berry St. was built by Wing & Mahurin Architects in 1884 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the home of Edward Alexander Kelly Hackett, owner and publisher of the Fort Wayne Sentinel from 1880 until his death in 1916.
After that it became a funeral home until the 1940s and later an apartment building, Wahli said.
It hasn’t been occupied for 26 years, so the home is in quite rough shape. However, the duo can see past the missing wooden floorboards, the original fruit- and unicorn wallpaper motifs and other remnants of decades past to envision what the 7,300 square feet of livable space will become. As a bonus, buyers would get space in the 8-car 1,700-square-foot garage that has a ramp leading to it from the homes basement — perhaps where caskets were rolled between the house and garage. It will have some exterior parking as well, Wahli said.
“It’s really a lifestyle,” Maddox said, “because there will be inside and outside living for each of the units. Each unit will have greenspace, whether it be their own patio or porch.”
The large porch will be extended too, she said. Each unit above the garage will have its own balcony and the other units also will have an outside area. And it will be pet-friendly.
With its location directly across the street from the St. Joseph Hospital staff parking lot that will become the 60-bed Lutheran Downtown Hospital to open in 2021, it seems a good location to draw staff. They’ve been in talks, said Wahli, who’s also president of the West Central Neighborhood Association, where the hospital and home are located.
“We will feature a very fancy trim package,” Wahi said, “so, you know, crown molding, picture rail. ... Very high-end kitchens, granite countertops.”
“Real hardwood floors,” Maddox said.
“We really want someone to walk in and feel like that there’s some history there, but also modern amenities, modern functionality and some high-end living ... We want them say, ‘Wow, that’s really nice.’”
It will come with a cost of $390,000 and up per unit. Each will have two or three bedrooms with 1,300 to 2,200 square feet in each unit.
The construction timeline is two years with presales possible in six months, allowing owners to pick their own finishes, if everything goes well with the city’s building, Neighborhood Code Compliance and the Historical Preservation Commission. The home is not a historic site, but does have to comply on the exterior with historic commission regulations, Wahli said.
While many of the lofts currently downtown appeal to empty nesters, but now younger and middle aged people are moving downtown, Wahli said. The house currently doesn’t have an elevator planned, but one of the owners may choose to pay for the elevator, Maddox said.
In addition to its original owner, the house’s other claim to fame is its role as the backdrop for Guess Who’s “Haunted” music video filmed there Aug. 22, 2018. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttkFTnvnkqQ to view it.
Last year the house had 2,000 visitors on the West Central Home and Garden Tour and Maddox is hoping to get HGTV to do something on the house.
Having Hersha as the designer is a high point for the team.
“He is like the Frank Lloyd Wright of Fort Wayne,” Maddox said. “Not just Fort Wayne, nationally he’s highly acclaimed. ... He’s an artist. He always blows your mind with his ideas and concepts. If you see some of the drawings he’s done for this building ... this place will just be stunning.”
The 83-year-old has designed homes for millionaires and billionaires, as well as locally over the past 50 years. His work has been featured in national architectural magazines.