Happy New Year! We're excited to get going in 2024, and we already have seven stories on our radar that we're eager to follow. We're also taking note of two local food businesses on the move: Lunar Infusions Kombucha and Powers Hamburgers.
As you may have heard, we're turning our newsletter over to our guest writer, Ryan Schnurr, starting next week. He'll be filling in for us in January and February, so we're giving him a chance to introduce himself in place of the Local Spotlight.
Heads up: all paid subscribers this month are getting a free slice of pizza from Johnny OX Pizzeria! Want to get a slice of the action? Try our premium newsletter with a 30-day free trial.
Now, let's get started.
Talk of the Week
What's happening this year?
Here are 7 stories we're watching in 2024...
- Nightlife Downtown: It's no secret Fort Wayne is growing and seeking to attract more young adults. But so far, a key part of the puzzle is missing: nightlife options. Last year, one of our top stories was about Be Better Hospitality opening three new cocktail-oriented businesses on The Landing, including Night Train, which will be open seven days a week into the wee morning hours. Be Better plans to open its ventures in the next month or so, and we're excited to see how this affects the city's nightlife scene.
- Walkable hubs of activity at The Landing and West Main: The Landing is getting a boost this year with the grand opening of the Pearl (apartments, restaurants and retail) by Surack Enterprises, followed by the Pearl Street Arts Center in the old Aunt Millie's Perfection Bakery building across the street. From what we hear, the arts center will focus on music with performance spaces, practice rooms, lessons and galleries to host events, and it's aiming to open by the end of 2024. We'll also be following progress on West Main Street as Flats on Main (apartments and coworking) and Johnny and Esli Perez's latest ventures, Spoke & Ivy and Black Rabbit Bar, bring new life to Downtown's Southwest side.
- Broadway Corridor culture: Ever since Electric Works took up residence on Broadway, artists and small business owners in the area have been seeking to keep the area local and turn it into an art corridor of sorts. We're excited to see more events along Broadway this year driven by art and culture, and more small businesses, like Rune, taking up residence in the '07 (at Trubble Brewing's former spot).
- Electric Works expansion: Speaking of Electric Works, we're curious to see how it grows and develops this year. There's a ton of potential for this campus, but not having housing yet (or many spaces filled) has put a bit of a damper on realizing its potential thus far. Within the next month, the anchor restaurant tenant, Chapman's Brewing, is opening its massive 15,000+ square foot brewery in Building 27, known as the Forum, offering a full menu of smoked meats and vegetarian options, as well as 25 beers on tap and a new beer each week. We're excited to see how this development changes the vibe on campus. And if you haven't met Chapman's owner Scott Fergusson yet, you should! He's a Local subscriber, and an innovative thinker (who built and sold an enterprise data aggregation company before getting into brewing). He also co-owns Seoul Garden inside Union Street Market. Not only is he committed to making his spaces welcoming and affordable to the neighborhood, but also, he's working on some cool techie projects for Fort Wayne, too, like an easier way to buy and sell local art off the walls at restaurants. Stay tuned for more stories and updates coming your way!
- Riverfront development on Wells: So far, Fort Wayne's riverfront has been a crown jewel of Downtown development, hailed for its inclusivity and accessibility. But as riverfront growth extends into the modest Bloomingdale neighborhood and Wells Street corridor, there are some critical questions to ask about gentrification, river access and historic preservation, just to name a few. We're in the process of following a story about how area neighborhoods are working with developers and the city to keep Wells Street and Bloomingdale local and true to their eclectic, urban corridor roots. As More Brewing opens (2025) and the city chooses a developer for the Pepsi site (maybe soonish?), we'll have updates for you.
- Housing costs: Fort Wayne has long been called one of the most affordable places to buy a home in the U.S., but it's hard to ignore that housing prices here are on the rise (big time), stock is limited, and the situation doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. Is it still more affordable to buy than to rent? Will creatives and working professionals (who can't afford luxury condos) have options to live in close proximity to Downtown and the riverfront? These are a few of the many questions we have going into the New Year, and we'll be working with the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative to answer them.
- Bikeability and multimodal transit: We're excited to see progress with passenger rail in Fort Wayne (finally), and we're planning to attend a meeting with the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) in February, where we should learn more. But in addition to this massive rail project, there are smaller, more incremental ways Fort Wayne can become more accessible by bicycle or bus, too. We're curious to see what will happen with Citilink this year, as its staff begins putting some of their plans into action. Since 2024 is an election year, now is a prime time to make multimodal transportation a key issue in Indiana. We'll be following bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly developments in and around Downtown, too. Currently, most of the people who feel comfortable using Fort Wayne's existing on-street bicycle lanes are highly experienced cyclists. But if safer on-street infrastructure existed in and around Downtown that was more accommodating to recreational cyclists and families, more people might choose to commute by bicycle here. Groups like Three Rivers Active Streets are testing this theory, and we're watching their progress.
Got a topic you think we should cover in 2024?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Two quick updates.
- Lunar Infusions Kombucha closed its stall at Union Street Market at Electric Works yesterday. "It was a decision that was not made lightly, but I am choosing to shift my focus," owner Sarah Trombley wrote on Instagram. "We will continue to be open at our brewery in South Whitley, participate in the Saturday Farmers Market, attend more events, expand retail locations, and offer classes and workshops next year." You can also still find Lunar Infusions on tap at Kekionga Craft Cider's Union Street Market stall, or grab a kombucha float from The Local Apple Cart.
- Fort Wayne's famous Powers Hamburgers building is up for sale at $695K. Owners Michael and Gloria Hall told WANE 15 in October about their plans to sell the restaurant to the right buyer who would keep it open and operating, as is. The building is now up for sale, but still serving customers throughout the process, and owners say "business is strong."
What else? New ownership of a Southeast hangout. Childcare program grants. And city utilities plans. We cover it all in our premium newsletter.
Meet our guest writer, Ryan Schnurr.
He'll be filling in for us in January and February.
Your local Co-Founders (Kara and Mike) are going on a brief maternity/paternity leave in January and February as we welcome a new baby. Our friend and fellow Fort Wayne journalist, Ryan Schnurr, will be filling in for us while we're away.
To help you get to know Ryan, he says:
- I'm a Fort Wayne native. I live on the south side, near the old Lutheran Hospital (now park), where I was born. It took me 30 years to go three blocks.
- My day job: teaching journalism/lit/media studies at Trine University. Before that, I edited features and essays for Belt Magazine, a digital publication covering the Rust Belt and greater Midwest. And before that, I worked at local media outlets, like WANE 15 and KPC Media Group.
- You might know me from my book on the Maumee River, In the Watershed, which came out in 2017. I also recently produced a podcast, titled Fire!, on industrial fires and American life. If podcasts are your thing, you can check it out here.
I'm looking forward to continuing The Local's great coverage of development, transportation, sustainability, culture, and other vital community issues.
You can reach Ryan, Kara and Mike by emailing email@example.com.
To do list
Three of our favorite things to do this week.
- Attend: Artlink's 2024 Midwest Regional Exhibition and Postcard Exhibition & Sale with an opening reception Thursday from 5-8 p.m.! The Midwest Regional Exhibition showcases 60 artists in a range of mediums from painting to drawing, fiber art, sculpture, video, photography and ceramics. The Postcard portion features postcard-sized artwork donated by international, regional and local artists for sale, with proceeds benefiting Artlink’s exhibition programming.
- Watch: a new PBS Fort Wayne documentary exploring the history of Fort Wayne's Arts United Center designed by the famous architect Louis Kahn. It airs on PBS 39.1 on Thursday at 8 p.m., followed by an encore Sunday at 2 p.m. and online at pbs.org.
- Learn: the powerful story of Electric Works in a free, public lecture at the History Center on Sunday at 2 p.m., as part of the George R. Mather Lecture Series.
What else? We recommend two more things to do in our premium newsletter.
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Got a story tip or idea?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week, Locals!
-Your Editor, Kara Hackett