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Fort Wayne pledges $10 million in federal tax credits for Arts United Center renovation

The Arts United Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
Ella Abbott
The Arts United Center in downtown Fort Wayne.

The City of Fort Wayne announced it is allocating $10 million in tax credits to help fund the renovation of the Arts United Center.

The federal New Market Tax Credits are in addition to the $3 million the city had already pledged in Legacy grants to go with the Allen County Commissioners’ promise of $3 million. Indiana has also pledged $6 million through READI grants.

The center was built in 1973 before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations were implemented and has not been renovated since. T he plans are intended to improve the theater’s accessibility, functionality and connectivity for staff, patrons and volunteers at the center to make it more ADA-compliant, while also “preserving historic and architectural elements.”

The Arts United Center is the only performance structure designed by noted architect Louis Kahn. Officials said that makes it a draw for people from across the country to see the design. The renovation plans aim to preserve Kahn’s touch.

Arts United officials said they want to add a new lobby to the Freimann Square side of the building to improve access to the front row and add an elevator for better access to rehearsal space. They also said they want to add space for more outdoor programming and install windows in the brick to see out onto the square from inside.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement the support is essential.

“Arts United is a vital piece of Fort Wayne’s efforts to be the best community possible as a point of destination for residents and visitors,” Henry said.

Arts United said construction is set to begin in June.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.