A future expansion of the Arts United building in downtown Fort Wayne is the reason for a public hearing Thursday on an option for the group to buy two land parcels now part of Freimann Square.
Dan Ross, Arts United's vice president of community development, said Tuesday the group plans to add a wing to the north and west of its existing building in the next five to 10 years.
That would require obtaining ground now part of the park's northern edge, just south of a parking lot, he said.
The ground is owned by the city, and the group is hoping to acquire it through the option at “a nominal price,” Ross said. He said he didn't know the price and was not sure how much acreage would be purchased.
“We've been working with the parks department and the city of Fort Wayne, looking at the arts campus and how it integrates with Freimann Square and how it can work better to serve community needs,” Ross said, acknowledging concerns about loitering and drug use in the park.
“The goal is to create positive activity that would discourage negative activity,” he said, adding: “Currently, a lot of people don't feel welcome there because of illegal activities going on.”
The purchase would not include the plaza, flower beds, fountains or the area along Main Street that holds the statue of Revolutionary War Gen. Anthony Wayne on horseback, Ross said.
The proposed building expansion will create additional classroom and performing space plus offices. The new wing would join the existing building, designed by the late famed architect Louis Kahn and now nearly 50 years old, through a second-floor walkway.
Only general conceptual drawings of the expansion exist at this time, Ross said.
Because the option involves city-owned land, a public hearing must be held before the option can be signed, he said.
The hearing will be at 9 a.m. Thursday in the McMillen Park Golf Course clubhouse, 3900 Hessen Cassel Road. A copy of the option agreement can be reviewed until Thursday at the parks department's administrative offices at 705 E. State Blvd.
Written comments will be accepted at email@example.com through today.