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The Summit is Seeking Use Variances for South Campus. Neighbors Invited to Attend Discussion on July 6.

July 5, 2017
Please take time to read the following press release shared with the Association:
“Public Meeting at The Summit 
Thursday, July 6 @ 6:30 pm
The Summit Event Center
The Summit has submitted a proposal for a Master Use Variance Plan for their South Campus. Residents from the surrounding neighborhoods are invited to learn about the use variances proposed for their buildings and campus. The variances would authorize, and expand in some cases, a number of uses currently underway on the South Campus. There are among the new variances cited proposals to bring a doctor’s and/or dental office to the campus, to create a Neighborhood Center and a Community Center. 
The attached document includes a number of FAQ as well as a complete list of the uses they are requesting and examples of uses that have been suggested, requested or desired in the future. The Summit has made great efforts to engage the leaders of the surrounding neighborhoods. This document provides answers to the questions and in some cases, concerns, that we all brought to the table. Please spend some time studying this before the meeting as it may help to address any questions or concerns you may have about the proposal. The meeting will be open for any other questions or concerns you may have. 
Additionally, a public hearing will be held before the Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday, July 20 ahead of their vote on this variance request.”  — End of press release.
BZA Filing – Merged
Use Variance Proposal – FAQs – 7.3.17
What does this mean for Historic Southwood Park neighbors?

The Summit invited leaders from surrounding neighborhoods to preview the Use Variances.  Most of the Variances seem reasonable in their effort to keep The Summit an active, regulated asset to the community.  You may have other concerns, we did not imagine, so I would invite you to review the attached Use Variance Proposal written by The Summit and the BZA filing.  Share any concerns you may have at the public meeting this Thursday, July 6 at 6:30.  You can also share any concerns with me at the following email address: Southwood_Park@yahoo.com.

An issue of concern for Historic Southwood Park is the fate of Hausser Hall.  The building has been empty since Taylor University Fort Wayne closed. It has attracted some unwanted activity, but vandalism and trespassing has decreased since the windows were boarded and security patrols were added by The Summit.

The Summit’s new master plan would demolish Hausser Hall and replace it with a building “largely on the same footprint” a few years in the future, if needed.  But repurposing parts of Hausser Hall as a campus maintenance facility may be better for the neighborhood and for The Summit.
Here are a few reasons why reuse of Hausser Hall would be good for The Summit:
  • IMMEDIATE NEED FOR SPACE: The Summit needs to build a maintenance facility.  There is a real need for space to store supplies, tools, and items like snowplows.  Current plans call for a 7,500 sf building to be constructed.  If the main floor of Hausser Hall was adapted for use as storage and maintenance, it could be as much as 10,000 sf.  That’s extra space that could be used by tenants at The Summit.
  • NOT MAKING MAINTENANCE AND STORAGE A “FIRST IMPRESSION”: Adapting Hausser Hall for maintenance and storage use places those jobs at the “back of campus” where they are seen less, but still readily accessible to The Summit campus.  Why place these uses closer to the campus’s front door?
  • LANDSCAPE SCREENING:  If Hausser Hall is replaced, a new building would likely need expensive landscape berms and/or walls.  These items use valuable real estate and resources to create.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP:  Hausser Hall is built with expensive quality materials like granite and Indiana limestone.  Reusing the building will keep hundreds of tons of material from being hauled to the landfill.
  • HISTORIC PRESERVATION:  Hausser Hall was designed by Alvin M. Strauss and Associates.  A.M. Strauss was arguably Fort Wayne’s greatest 20th Century architect. He designed the Lincoln Tower, Memorial Coliseum, the Embassy Theatre, and the redesign of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, among other designs. Appreciation for Mid Century designs is beginning to grow.  Hausser Hall is on ARCH’s local Most Endangered List for historic buildings.  When the building passes 50 years old and can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a commercial reuse of the building will be eligible for a 20% federal tax credit.  Choosing demolition means choosing to throw away this credit that could be syndicated to investors or The Summit’s parent company.

The Summit and surrounding neighborhoods want to work together for our mutual benefit.  Here are some ways reuse of Hausser Hall would be good for Historic Southwood Park neighbors:

  • FIGHTING VANDALISM AND TRESPASSING:  The quickest way to fight vandalism and trespassing is to bring activity back to southeast corner of campus by reusing Hausser Hall for maintenance and storage.  Regular business traffic will keep trouble away.  An empty lot would not deter crime, as it is out of sight of campus offices.
  • PROPERTY LINE CROWDING: Hausser Hall is not close to the property line.  There is a comfortable amount of space between it and neighbor’s homes.  A potential new building in the future might need to be closer.
  • NOISE POLLUTION:  Large air handling and air conditioning equipment for a newer building would likely face away from the middle campus and toward neighbors’ homes.  The amount of noise generated by these units prevents sleeping with windows open, or enjoyment of backyards.  Hausser Hall might be able to have suite-by-suite units installed on the roof, mitigating potential noise.
  • LIGHT POLLUTION:  Neighbors were accustomed to the amount of light coming from Hausser Hall when it was in use.  A newer building in the future is likely to have more windows, doors and security lighting at night.

In short, making Hausser Hall an active part of the Summit’s building inventory is a good thing.

Please share your thoughts.   I invite you to review the attached Use Variance Proposal written by The Summit and share any concerns you may have at the public meeting this Thursday, July 6 at 6:30.  Here are links to the documents: Use Variance Proposal – FAQs – 7.3.17,  BZA Filing – Merged

You can also share any concerns with me at the following email address: Southwood_Park@yahoo.com.

Steve McCord,  President, Historic Southwood Park Board of Directors

 

 

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