Meeting Of The Minds Over Troubled Harrison Square Condo Project

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 18, 2010 Updated Nov 18, 2010 at 7:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Is securing a bank loan to build "The Harrison" an impossible dream?

The troubled retail and condominium project in downtown Fort Wayne is approaching a big deadline, and that is the primary reason why the developers were in town this week.

Chris Schoen from Barry Real Estate and Jason Freier with Hardball Capital came in Wednesday from Atlanta to tell Mayor Henry’s administration where they stand on delivering the project.

In late October, the developers were given 60 days notice to show proof of financing, or risk losing rights to build.

Schoen told city officials his company is working double-time to line up tenants and lenders.

But city Redevelopment Director Greg Leatherman says the money still isn't coming through.

He says prying cash from banks right now is a tall task.

Greg Leatherman/Ft. Wayne Redevelopment Director: " Tremendous equity is being required by banks for these types of projects, sometimes more than 50 percent down, and so Schoen continues to shop it with various banks in town, and the effort is definitely there. The success of it is yet to be proven, but we're hopeful and so is he."

The city's return message, that Barry Real Estate has until December 29th to push the project ahead, or the Henry administration will look to other developers, and there will be penalties for not doing what was promised.

Leatherman would not disclose the specifics of any possible fines or penalties, but did say the city has no intention of issuing an extension on the deadline.

Leatherman also indicated the project, if built, will probably look different than it was first envisioned.

The likely model now calls for a first floor of retail shops, a second floor for offices, and one or two floors above, featuring up to 40 high-end apartment units.

That change in focus is due, in large part, to the fact banks are more interested in lending money for apartments than condos that would need to be pre-sold.

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