A suburban Subway on an urban street

February 10, 2008 at 8:12 pm 10 comments

“Urbanism starts with the location of the parking lot.” — David Sucher

(Jon) When the downtown Fort Wayne Subway shop was torn down to make way for Harrison Square, it was a safe bet that it would rebuilt nearby.

And with the recent emphasis on downtown renewal, this property at the southeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Clinton Street was a prime location for a great, urban-looking business.

Alas, we have this suburban Subway, smack in the middle of downtown.

Oh, I’m sure it’ll be a great-looking building, and far better looking than its previous one. But an opportunity was wasted, and I don’t know why the city didn’t make the case for Subway to locate its restaurant on the property in a way that reflected its urban setting.

In other words, to make this Subway’s site plan more urban, move the building to the corner and the parking around the back.

Here’s an admittedly simple graphic by David Sucher that shows what I’m talking about:

If the Subway had been located right on the corner, downtown Fort Wayne would have taken a step toward being a more walkable neighborhood. It’s too bad that this simple idea wasn’t considered before the building went up.


Entry filed under: Architecture, city culture, Downtown, Jon Swerens, Urbanism. Tags: , , , , .

The happy city Downtown design guidelines: Never implemented?


  • 1. Michaelk  |  February 10, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Fort Wayne still designs for cars first, people second.

    Apparently it’s more important that people can easily get on and off the main streets to get through downtown more quickly.

  • 2. Scott Greider  |  February 11, 2008 at 12:36 am


    The City doesn’t yet have enforceable design guidelines for any part of the city, including downtown. So there wasn’t really anything they could do, technically, at least. The only hope to stop this disaster would have been for the BZA to deny the developers request for a parking variance (they asked to wave the required 5′ buffer between the sidewalk and the front of the parking stalls). I attended that meeting, and literally pleaded with the board to deny the request. The developer said the project wouldn’t work without it. It could have been stopped, but alas… they approved the request.

    In my mind, this is a double-disaster; not only did the city loose two great older buildings, but now we’re stuck with this tragedy for many years to come.

  • 3. Jon  |  February 11, 2008 at 8:11 am

    So, Scott, what you’re saying is these downtown Fort Wayne design guidelines were never implemented?

  • 4. Zachary Benedict  |  February 11, 2008 at 8:18 am

    These were never “officially” adopted were they?

  • 5. Adrian Fisher  |  February 11, 2008 at 9:36 am

    It may seem like a small thing to some, but as a downtown resident, I know having street access makes a big difference. Take the Starbucks on Jefferson and Fairfield. It even looks urban with that friendly front porch-thingy, but regardless of what direction from which one approaches, one must walk either across the parking lot, or the drive-thru to get in. It just makes one feel like she doesn’t belong.

  • 6. David Sucher  |  February 11, 2008 at 11:23 am

    One point: It might be easier in local politics to remove the “build to the sidewalk” idea from the “design” box — which to some people sounds subjective like paint color etc etc — and put it in the simple “zoning” box

  • 7. David Sucher  |  February 11, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    And as a planner once told me many many years ago: “Land is too cheap in America.”

    Look at the size of that parking lot. Of course it’s hard to say from the photo, but it appears huge in relation to the building. I wonder what the parking ratio is is.

  • […] 11, 2008 (Jon) While looking for information to bolster my previous post about the new downtown Subway restaurant, I came across the Fort Wayne Downtown Design Guidelines […]

  • 9. Kevin  |  February 14, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I wish I could say that the situation was better in Indy, but there’s a new grocery store going up in my neighborhood that is being fronted by a parking lot. Fortunately they are also putting parking on the roof. Still, the street corner was just begging to have a quality building on it, and now it will be set back. A huge missed opportunity.

  • 10. Paul  |  April 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Or how about allowing this to be developed? Strip malls in the city!


    It looks like they are making guidelines without an attempt to even follow them,

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