21Country: How Rudy’s changed a downtown neighborhood

21Alive News at 5
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 11:33 AM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - It is the indisputable gem of Fort Wayne’s downtown.

However, an entire neighborhood was bulldozed to build Parkview Field and the condos across the street. Like McClellan Street, a working-class neighborhood whose families and homes were celebrated in these remarkable photographs by brothers Peter and David Turnley and published in their book ‘McClellan Street,’ is long gone. However, not all traces of these once-vibrant neighborhoods have disappeared.

Rudy Mahara is a businessman and a visionary that says he had no idea that this would develop the way it has over the years.

Ten years ago, Mahara bought a former crack house across from the ballpark, turned it into a cigar and wine shop, and named it Rudy’s. The humidor is the heart of the place, sporting exotic and domestic cigars. Upstairs, there is a lounge for enjoying a good cigar, sipping Indiana wines, and watching sports. Outside, a beer garden and a second-story deck to view it all. Rudy’s helped transform a neighborhood that for years was a public nuisance.

Rudy’s is a popular night spot, but Mahara has bigger plans. He’s part of a consortium that wants to turn fourteen of the twenty-two surviving homes on the block into boutique shops and the alley behind them into a common area for tourists.

‘Brackenridge Village,’ as it would be called, is still years from creation, but Rudy Mahara is a man on a mission, with friends in high places and that stubborn vision of what his little corner of 21Country could be. Given his track record, it seems obvious this man won’t rest until this once blighted corner of 21Country shines as brightly as the ballpark that inspired it.