Crews have begun work to remove the historic Bowser buildings in Fort Wayne. The McMillen Foundation, which owns the buildings, will donate the property to the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne once the project is complete.
The foundation contacted the city for help in removing the buildings after it couldn’t find developers to restore them. The main building, which was constructed 100 years ago, required new a new HVAC and electrical systems, new plumbing, asbestos abatement and adaptations for ADA compliance, according to the city.
"The City and McMillen Foundation talked with several developers who toured the main building and found it too costly to renovate," said Greg Leatherman, community development division director for the city of Fort Wayne. "Instead of allowing the buildings to further deteriorate, we want to ensure that the property is an asset to the neighborhood and can be used for recreation."
The city says Fort Wayne-based Martin Enterprises Inc. will salvage office furniture and building materials to save on demolition costs, a process which is expected to take six months to one year to complete. Once the property is clear, it will be planted with grass seed and the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne will take ownership and use the land for outdoor recreation activities.
The main Bowser building served as the corporate headquarters for the S.F. Bowser Co., which manufactured gas pumps. The city plans to memorialize the history of the buildings with two historical markers in Bowser Park.