September 20, 2023 - Progress along Fort Wayne’s riverfront continues as Mayor Tom Henry today joined the City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development Division, Parks and Recreation Department, and community leaders for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on Riverfront Phase IIb Public Open Space.
“Riverfront development is a key economic driver and unique quality of life amenity that is positioning Fort Wayne as a regional and national leader in providing an excellent and successful live, work and play model,” said Mayor Henry. “As a point of destination community, we’re moving together in the right direction as our best days are ahead of us. This next phase of work along our riverfront will have a lasting and meaningful impact.”
The opening of Promenade Park in 2019 was Phase I of riverfront development. Promenade Park quickly became one of the most popular destinations for residents and tourists. In addition to being a nationally-renowned park, Promenade Park furthered the City’s proven track record of leveraging public funds to catalyze private investment.
Earlier this year, work on Phase IIa was completed and serves as a connection between Promenade Park and Headwaters Park, filling in a missing piece of park space and providing a vital connection between what now is nearly one acre of public park space on the south side of the St Marys River.
Phase IIb of Riverfront Public Open Space, will be an investment of $40 million and will build upon the success of Promenade Park and continue Fort Wayne’s proactive efforts to revitalize its central riverfront by extending the public space from Promenade Park along the St. Marys River west to Ewing Street and east to Clinton Street. The expanded public space will feature an extension of the elevated Tree Canopy Trail, boat docks for private watercraft, universally-accessible boulder mound, hammock grove, walking trails, an amphitheater, and landscaping.
“This inviting second phase of the Riverfront development continues the mission to energize and unite the community,” notes Steve McDaniel, director, Parks and Recreation. “The additions to the footprint on the north side of the St. Marys River will provide enhanced access to the rivers for active and passive recreation and also reflect the vision to evolve and develop as a center of activity that was first realized with Promenade Park in 2019.”
A primary objective of this next phase is to continue creating unique, transformational public gathering spaces for residents while growing as a regional destination for visitors, tourists, developers, and businesses. The goal is to create a vibrant mixed-use district with diverse housing opportunities, employment opportunities, and connect existing hubs and neighborhoods to each other and to the riverfront.
The public investments being made by the City have led to several private developments in and around the riverfront area. Examples include the completion of the nearly $90 million The Riverfront at Promenade Park, work is moving forward on The Lofts at Headwaters Parks and More Brewing will start work soon on a new brewery. The Pearl and the Ashberry development will be finished in the near future. In addition, the former Schaab Metal building will see an adaptive reuse project adjacent to the riverfront public space.
"Community engagement and delivering the amenities and opportunities that residents want are the core of our commitment,” said Nancy Townsend, Director of Community Development. “These new developments also serve as drivers for private investment, which will provide a long-term financial return on our community’s investment."
Construction of Phase IIb is expected to last approximately 24 months. Construction will be overseen by The Hagerman Group. The project is being funded through a lease rental revenue bond using local income tax dollars and READI funding.
Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), READI encourages regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that will attract and retain talent in Indiana. The $500 million READI fund was passed by legislation during the 2021 session and was divided among 17 regions. Through READI, 17 regions across the state that represent all 92 counties are moving forward with projects and programs designed to enhance Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers. Collectively, the state’s $500 million investment is expected to yield an additional $9.86 billion public, private and nonprofit dollars invested (19.72:1 investment leverage ratio) in enhancing Indiana’s quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity.