The West Central Neighborhood Association was incorporated in 1972. Within a few years of the association’s establishment, the City and the residents of West Central undertook to create a development plan to protect the neighborhood.
The name of the first Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) was “West Central: Grande Olde Neighborhood.” From the 1981 Plan:
“the purpose of the plan is to identify actions that the residents of the neighborhood, the City, and the private sector can take to maintain and improve the quality of the living environment within West Central.:
At the time of the 1981 Plan, West Central was not divided into areas as we now know them. However, the City had identified seven “Community Development Block Grant Impact Areas.” Historic districts had yet to be “officially” established although an application had been filed to establish National Historic designation.
Neighborhood characteristics in that time period included an over-62 population of 19.5% with an under-18 population of 24.8%. The median family income was $6,993. Land use was primarily right-of-way with 30.5% attributed to that category. Single family, duplex, and multi family accounted for 25.9% of the land use. Of the housing stock at that time single-family accounted for 53.3%, two-family 27.1%, and multi-family 19.6%.
According to Plan information at that time, West Central contained a wealth of historical and architectural heritage with over 45% of the most significant structures found in the City located in West Central. The neighborhood boasted over 30 examples of numerous architectural styles including builder, Queen Anne, Italianate, vernacular, Classical Revival, and Romantic Revival as well as a number of Richardsonian Romanesque structures.
At the time of the 1981 Plan, the housing market was described as follows:
In sum, the West Central housing market offers a wide range of housing opportunities, within varied settings, for purchase of rental. The majority of the housing offereings within the neighborhood take the form of rentals. The character of these rentals appears fairly transient. The purchase market seems strong, offering great variety in house size and price.
From the final paragraphs:
West Central is faced with a number of problems which can only be alleviated by a strong commitment toward revitalization by neighborhood residents, the private sector, and the City of Fort Wayne. The process of neighborhood improvement can only be successful if all participants work in cooperation with each other.
We have come a long way from the days of the “flight” to the suburbs. The problems we faced at the time of the 1981 Plan still exist; however, they are growing fewer as we are truly seeing the above paragraph as prophetic.
As the urban core and downtown revitalize, West Central continues to be “Ye Grande Olde Neighborhood.”