The Journal Gazette
Friday, April 30, 2021 1:00 am

Momentum on city's side continues

Tom Henry

We've been through a lot as a community over the past year.

Some of you have lost loved ones, a job or a home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses, large and small, have been affected.

What we've done as a city, though, is come together and rally around one another, always looking for ways to make a difference. A spirit of helping friends, neighbors and those in need sets Fort Wayne apart.

We're seeing results through vaccinations, a slow but steady return to normalcy through appropriate masking and social distancing, and continued investments throughout Fort Wayne with neighborhood infrastructure improvements, enhancements to our parks and downtown development progress, just to name a few.

We continue to be on a roll. Over the past decade, downtown revitalization has resulted in nearly $1 billion of investment in the heart of Fort Wayne. How many other communities can say that?

Promenade Park has become a local and regional destination spot. Design details, construction documents and bidding for Phase II of riverfront public space development will be completed this year with construction anticipated in 2022.

There will also be more public spaces to complement Promenade Park. The Riverfront at Promenade Park broke ground in February. The $88 million development is the first private investment along the riverfront and will include housing, a parking garage, and office and retail space.

Nearby, The Landing is open with housing, commercial and retail offerings. Construction has started at Electric Works and will serve as an important economic driver and quality-of-life amenity.

The Bradley is scheduled to open this summer as a 124-room boutique hotel. The Ashberry project will be home to the corporate headquarters of STAR Financial Bank, and the $43 million development will provide commercial and retail space and public parking.

The Lofts at Headwaters Park will begin later this year. The $67 million project will have apartments, a parking garage, and office and retail space next to Club Soda. A memorandum of understanding is also in place for a development on the North River site. It's a proposal exceeding $150 million and calls for a professional soccer stadium, fieldhouse, event center, hotel, parking and other attractions.

As a way to honor our veterans, the Fort Wayne Veterans Memorial Bridge, a signature gateway along Spy Run Avenue, will see significant upgrades with construction slated to begin in early 2022.

We also recognize that what we've been able to accomplish as a community and region isn't easy, and sometimes we're not able to do every project that comes before us for consideration. Large public-private partnerships are complex as we focus on growing Fort Wayne while protecting taxpayers.

In recent weeks, for instance, a development team came to the city with a proposal for a mixed-use development along High Street near where riverfront development is taking off. Conceptually, it offered a lot of promise, but the requests outlined by the developers contained a considerable amount of risk of public dollars. It just isn't a good fit at this time with all of the other exciting projects that have already started or are nearing a start date. We simply don't have unlimited financial resources.

Overall, Fort Wayne is doing very well; we continue to receive statewide and national accolades. The residents, neighborhoods and businesses in Fort Wayne give me reason to be thankful, hopeful and optimistic about where we're headed. Together, we've proven over and over again that we're resilient, caring and bold. Our community is positioned for continued growth and success.

Tom Henry is mayor of Fort Wayne.

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