Is Renaissance Square Too Lavish For Mayor's Office?

By John W. Davis

July 15, 2010 Updated Jul 15, 2010 at 10:21 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Renaissance Square will be the new combined home of Fort Wayne and Allen County government in April 2011. But is the former home of the Lincoln Life Insurance Company, a fortune 500 company, too lavish for the Mayor's Office?

"We think it's a wonderful space that we hope to utilize as is," said Schenkel Shultz Architect Cory Miller.

Since it opened in 1959, 200 East Berry Street has seen quite a bit of turnover.

The building has been occupied by the Wolf & Dessauer department store, the Waterfield Mortgage Company, the Lincoln Life Insurance Company and the Allen County Public Library.

In April 2011, the building will see a new life as city and county governments move in from the current City-County Building on Main Street.

However, on July 6 at Fort Wayne City Council meeting, Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, questioned the Mayor's Office when he said their 12,000 square feet of the Renaissance Square building is too lavish and gives the wrong message.

"I think it's appropriate based on not only our budget and time line but that a space like that becomes a focal point, a place to be proud of for the city leadership," said Miller.

Meanwhile, Indiana's NewsCenter received an exclusive video tour Thursday afternoon.

Indiana's NewsCenter Multimedia Journalist John W. Davis reports that when you first get off the elevators on the fourth floor where the mayor's office will be, you notice the atrium and then the ceiling in the foyer.

The ceiling is Ford's Theatre replica, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Once you walk into the mayor's office, you notice the colonnade with columns mimicking the Lincoln Memorial Monument in Washington D.C.

However, all of these renovations were made by the Lincoln Life Insurance Company for their top executives back in 1987 and 1994.

Architects say the classic design is timeless.

"Why spend money to tear stuff out on a space like that when you can spend that same money to improve your employees work space and other spots in the building," said Miller.

As of Thursday, July 15, all of the office space is bare.

City leaders spent $7.3 million to buy the building and put aside $7.2 million for renovations.

Most of that renovation money will be used to remodel office spaces, and bring the building up to code.

City leaders have said numerous times that moving to Renaissance Square will save taxpayers millions over the long run.

Schenkel Shultz Architecture Firm said the goal is to start renovation contract bidding by mid-August.

Renovations are slated to begin in October.

Fort Wayne and Allen County government employees hope to move in by April 2011.




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