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CIB votes to purchase ‘fast food block’

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - It may or may not ever be home to a downtown arena, but members of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board on Thursday agreed to buy a stretch of land once viewed as a potential arena site.

One hurdle still needs to be cleared, however, before the sale can be finalized.

CIB agrees to exercise option to buy "fast food block" near Grand Wayne Center.

It is often referred to as the "fast food block", the stretch just west of the Grand Wayne Center where right now you find a trio of food shops and parking for the downtown library.

The Capital Improvement Board, or CIB, agreed to shell out $6-million for the prime piece of real estate.

Back in 2018, the board acquired an option to buy the land, and at its meeting before noon Thursday, it approved paying $200,000 to exercise the option.

They aren't yet willing to turn over the full sales price.

The board learned of some potential contamination on an adjacent property, and the $200,000 was paid until the Indiana Department of Environmental Management can nail down whether the land gets a clean bill of health or not.

"We're going to make a good faith deposit, if we don't get a satisfactory letter back from IDEM, then that would cancel the option," said CIB President Jim Cook.

It would be a natural for the Grand Wayne Center to expand on that stretch next to the convention hall.

Land purchased was once viewed as potential downtown arena site.

But you also can't rule out the idea of an events center, or arena, being situated there.

Mayor Tom Henry put the arena proposal on the backburner a couple of years ago, citing a study that indicated it wouldn't be cost effective.

The mayor admits, originally, the project was pretty expensive.

"But now there are some new designs that have emerged that have cut that cost about in half, so now perhaps it's something that we can take a look at a little more seriously," Mayor Henry told us this week.

Whether an arena ever gets the go ahead on that property, the CIB wants control of the land in question, in case some kind of exciting project indeed materializes, and now it's one step closer to seeing that happen.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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