As many Fort Wayne residents are by now aware, General Electric announced last week that Building Number 18 on the Broadway campus will be demolished. This office building sits on the east side of Broadway, just north of McCullough Park and a small gatehouse, a large building along the busy commercial corridor that funnels travelers to and from downtown. Soon it will just be another vacant lot.
ARCH, like many others, is wondering what the future will hold for the remaining GE buildings. Will they also be torn down? Will they sit vacant indefinitely? Is there a possibility for reuse? City of Fort Wayne Officials are in conversations with GE about the site, and we sincerely hope that reuse is one of options they are discussing. Adaptive reuse is a proven redevelopment alternative that can enhance communities and create new economic opportunities. Its happening across the country and in our own state, so why not in Fort Wayne too?
While redeveloping a site the size of the GE campus may seem daunting, adaptive reuse projects in similar situations have been successful. This past weekend The Journal Gazette published an article about the adaptive reuse of the Studebaker Corporation assembly plant in South Bend, Indiana as a tech hub that will include offices, commercial space, restaurants and rooftop gardens. UPDATE: A longer version of the article appeared in the the South Bend Tribune and can be read here.
A little further from home, in North Adams, Massachusetts, is the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. A 13-acre site filled with a network of 26 buildings from the 19th century has been transformed into a world-class Contemporary art museum. The large industrial buildings on the campus have been converted into thousands of square feet of exhibition and performance space that draws over 100,000 visitors annually to see some of the best Contemporary art in the world. Check out this virtual tour from their website.
These are just two examples of adaptive reuse, but the possibilities for any given space are numerous. Again, we hope GE and the City are seriously considering all the possibilities for the future of the GE campus, including reuse, and taking into account what is best for Fort Wayne and its residents.