Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel
Feb 1, 2020
With a clear, consistent calling and a legacy-minded approach, Ambassador Enterprises and its affiliates are dedicated to creating lasting, positive impact in our community, and are proud to support Fort Wayne’s downtown development efforts.
Friday’s announcement that Mayor Tom Henry will give Electric Works developers more time to land a crucial anchor tenant isn’t the only potentially Big News being made by downtown real estate, including the campus that was formerly the headquarters of the Lincoln Financial Group.
Abridge Pointe, an affiliate of Fort Wayne-based Ambassador Enterprises, which was founded by Daryle Doden in 2006 and bills itself as a “strategic investing firm,” in July paid $22.75 million for eight separate properties used but not owned by Lincoln, which was founded in Fort Wayne in 1905 and in 1998 announced plans to move its headquarters to Philadelphia. The properties include parking lots and three major structures: buildings at 1302 S. Harrison St. and 1300 S. Clinton St. and a parking garage at 111 W. Brackenridge St. The total annual property tax bill is about $658,000, according to county records.
Lincoln had not owned the properties since the 1980s, and they were last owned by the Trona Cogeneration Corp. of Delaware. At one time the company employed more than 3,300 people in Fort Wayne, and although spokesman Scott Sloat wouldn’t say how many remain here, he did say they won’t be affected by the sale to Ambassador.
“We have a lease through 2029, and we’ve been doing renovations,” he said. “In fact, we have 30 openings (in Fort Wayne).
Ambassador’s plans for the properties are in flux, but appear to bode well for the city. “As individual and organizational citizens of this region, we are vitally interested in the future of downtown Fort Wayne. We are committed to supporting development efforts that further adaptive reuse and focus on building thriving communities,” Ambassador spokesman Ringo Santiago said in a statement.
Rob Williamson of the Allen County Assessor’s commercial team said he understands that Lincoln is consolidating its employees in the 1920s-era 1301 S. Harrison building, with the newer, more-visible and perhaps more marketable building at 1300 S. Clinton becoming available for one or more other tenants. As of now about 135,000 square feet are available, Santiago said.
Much if this is speculative, of course, but the involvement of a Fort Wayne company with a track record of local commitment and success can only be good news for downtown. Will ambassador attract new jobs and still more investment and excitement downtown? Will some of those parking lots find higher and better uses as a result?
The answers may never fully compensate for the loss of Lincoln, but a more strategic use of its former property would at least be a fitting step in the right direction.