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Three Rivers Apartments 1966
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
While Mayor Harold Zeis (1964-71) gets most of the credit (or blame) for the 1960’s downtown redevelopment, it was Mayor Paul Mike Burns (1960-63) who had commissioned the detailed study of the city’s urban structures and housing that was completed in 1962 by the Rhode Island urban planning firm of Blair and Stein Associates. When Zeis came to office, he focused significant city government time and energy — in addition to developing new residential housing units in distressed areas — to the leveling and renewal of the area bounded by Main, Superior, Calhoun and the Maumee River.
In 1965, The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission sold property for the initiative’s first downtown urban renewal project, which covered 5.6 acres at the east end of Superior and Columbia streets to the Three Rivers Development Corp. for $250,000. On this ground was then built Three Rivers Apartments which had the financial backing of Indiana & Michigan Electric Co., several of whose executives were also officers of the newly formed development company.
This kickoff to downtown’s redevelopment eliminated the 400 block east of both of those two streets that had been home to the Borden’s Ice Cream plant (now Edy’s - which relocated to North Wells St.), warehouses for the Grand Leader and W & D’s department stores, Pettit Transfer & Storage Co., Hagerman Construction and National Mill Supply, all of whose buildings were subsequently razed.
Designed by the Silver Spring, MD architectural firm Cohen, Haft & Assoc., Ted Hagerman, Hagerman Construction (who took part in the September 1965 groundbreaking), was the general contractor on the twin-14 story, $6M project. In addition to the two luxury apartment buildings and huge above street level heated swimming pool, they constructed an underground parking garage that held 250 cars and then put the complex’s surface parking lot on top of it. The image
shown was taken in September of 1966, exactly one year after groundbreaking, and shows Hagerman’s crews pouring the tenth floor of the east building, with the 1930’s art deco filtration plant in the background.
Through the years the buildings have been carefully maintained and continually updated, and the 354 units (covering 17 different floor plans) from 506 sq. ft. to over 3,000 sq. ft. are still considered to be downtown’s “Luxury” apartments, and have the amenities and views to prove it. While it’s amusing today to read the brochures from the buildings’ grand openings in the summer of 1967 where they tout “Appliances are finished in the very newest Avocado color”, and that
“All TV’s get channels 15, 21 and 33”, current management assures me that all the avocado appliances disappeared many years ago and you can now have all the TV channels you want.
A tip of the hat to Eric Tripp for sharing this image.
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, and the history/architecture guide for FortWayneFoodTours.com