Above is the planned layout of the 160-acre subdivision that is planned for late spring or summer. The plans would also include a YMCA and possible YWCA facility closer to Van Wert Middle School (Photo submitted)
Above is the planned layout of the 160-acre subdivision that is planned for late spring or summer. The plans would also include a YMCA and possible YWCA facility closer to Van Wert Middle School (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – Four businessmen have decided to invest in Van Wert by funding a 160-acre subdivision that would include nearly 300 lots, a new YMCA facility and possible YWCA facility, a lake that would help prevent flooding in the Chief Supermarket parking lot, and a bike path that would run from Van Wert-Decatur Road to the Van Wert Middle School building.

Tom Turnwald explained that the project started out as him seeing a need to address the concerns of the aging YMCA and YWCA buildings and as a way to get affordable housing in the community to attract young professionals.

“What originally started it was at the time I was thinking about the needs of the Van Wert community,” said Turnwald. “The original thought came when I was running on a treadmill at the Y, and there was a bucket collecting rain water as I was running, and I thought, ‘what are we going to do with this facility; how’s it going to make it another 150 years?’”

At the same time Turnwald was taking his daughter to college courses and saw the positive impact a great recreational facility has for recruiting young professionals.

After developing a vision, Turnwald approached the Dickinson family about buying 10 acres of farm land to house a new Y facility near Van Wert schools. After discussion, the Dickinson family offered to sell the entire 160 acre farm.


“As I was contemplating my options, I explained my vision to Scott Niswonger,” said Turnwald. “He loved the idea and said he would join my efforts, and he recommended we approached Chuck Koch and Andy Czajkowski about being involved, knowing that they shared the passion to make Van Wert a better community to live in.”

Turnwald noted that the project is fully funded through the four investors and will not need funding from taxpayer money, but that they will likely seek donations after the project is underway.

The target housing cost options are in the rage of $150,000 to $220,000 said Turnwald, with the most affordable housing being placed closest to the schools and condos being placed toward Chief Supermarket. There are plans for luxury homes to be available in the southwest area of the land.

Turnwald noted that he has 15 people who work for him between the ages of 28 and 32 and out of that about 25 percent live in Fort Wayne but won’t move closer due to lack of affordable but decent housing.

He said that creating this subdivision will help address this issue for young professionals.

Those interested in housing will be able to choose their own builders and own layout plan.

“There will be a strong focus on utilizing as many local contractors and subcontractors as possible through the development in order to have as much positive impact on the local economy as possible,” said Turnwald. “We have some really exciting programs we are looking at and anxious to discuss with the public.”

The layout also includes a lake that will prevent the Chief Supermarket parking lot from filling with water and a bike path that would run between the subdivision and the current businesses and houses on State Route 118. Turnwald said that the ideal plan would be to connect the current bike path out at Smiley Park with the future one at the subdivision.

Groundbreaking for the subdivision is planed for late spring or summer of 2018. The YMCA/YWCA facility project is dependent on their boards to discuss the feasibility of utilizing a shared space by the schools to serve their mission.

Turnwald’s vision for the Y facility includes a top-notch pool that could be usable year-round that the two Y’s could share and a splash-pad.

While the current location would allow for the YM and YW to have a shared space, the current YW building will likely remain open because it houses women and children in need.

Turnwald said that he would not want to move forward with this project and leave the YM building vacant and that that building would be utilized in some way.

Further details will be rolling out in the upcoming months said Turnwald.

Anyone interested in housing at the new subdivision should contact Bob Gamble at BeeGee Realty for more details.