AUBURN — The Auburn Plan Commission on Oct. 13 approved plans for a new three-story office building in downtown Auburn.
David Hefty, on behalf of 3:16 Real Estate, had submitted a development plan for a building to house office and retail tenants at 200 E. 7th St. on the northeast corner of the courthouse square.
Credent Wealth Management, currently at 112 E. 7th St., has outgrown its space and will be the anchor tenant for the new 30,000 square-foot building, the plan commission heard. Hefty is the chief executive officer and co-founder of the investment company.
Amy Schweitzer, administrator of the Auburn Department of Building, Planning and Development, said the project will include four contiguous parcels where the existing structures will be demolished.
3:16 Real Estate recently purchased a vacant lot at 208 E. 7th St. from DeKalb County government that will occupy about one-third of the new building’s footprint. The building also will be sited on spaces currently occupied by Edward D. Jones investment office and a former barber shop; an insurance office; and a private residence.
The building will have two entrances facing 7th Street plus an entrance at the corner of Cedar and 7th streets. All entries will be recessed so as not to conflict with pedestrian traffic, Schweitzer said.
The project also will include new sidewalks and landscaping, a small parking lot and trash receptacles.
In her staff report, Schweitzer said the project meets all standards of the Downtown Commercial Architectural Standards, including setback and orientation, building mass, scale and size, primary entrance and facade openings, and materials and features.
There are minor concerns regarding sign and awnings that will project into the S.R. 8 right-of-way. The Indiana Department of Transportation has expressed concerns about projections in the right-of-way in the past. However, the proposed sign and awning meet current city standards and Hefty is working to resolve this with INDOT through its approval and permitting process, Schweitzer said.
She noted that in the planning process of the “Auburn 2040 — The Road Ahead” new comprehensive plan project, it has been made clear that the community is fond of downtown and supports continued investment in downtown. Additionally, Schweitzer said, her department has heard the city of Auburn as a whole lacks office space.
“There were also a few comments regarding parking downtown,” Schweitzer said. “The reality is, parking in downtown Auburn is sometimes challenging.”
She noted 3:16 Real Estate has been collaborating with Mayor Mike Ley to provide parking for new employees that will result from the proposed project.
The city has expressed interest in buying county-owned land across 7th Street as the site for a possible four-story parking garage. The site currently is an outdoor parking lot for county employees.
Schweitzer said the city is committed to addressing the parking situation in downtown.
“The city is in the process of conducting a thorough parking study that will look holistically at downtown parking, specifically supply, current demand, future demand and strategic locations,” she said.
Schweitzer recommended approval of the plan. She said while there are still routing comments that need to be addressed, the design team has been receptive to discussion and suggestions.
She said the city is grateful that Credent has chosen to move forward with the downtown Auburn location.
“Staff is encouraged to see another substantial investment within downtown. Employment centers and daily visitors ensure the health and vitality of downtowns. This project would greatly increase the office space in downtown, allowing for new job creation, which means more people downtown,” Schweitzer added.
Plan commission members did not have questions or concerns about the project and went on to grant the development plan request.
Also Tuesday night, the Plan Commission approved a secondary plat and development plan for a 4.13-acre site at 510 Smaltz Way that will house a new Lutheran Health Physicians facility.
The building has a footprint of about 19,255 square feet and will feature 18 exam rooms, a CT scan and X-ray services. The site will include 84 parking spaces, and the property will have access to Fort Wayne Orthopedics, via a private drive and sidewalk.