Inside INdiana Business

Fort Wayne details Riverfront Phase II

(rendering courtesy of the city of Fort Wayne)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The city of Fort Wayne has unveiled plans for its $25 million Phase II Riverfront project. The city says the project will include new trails, an open-air pavilion, wetland boardwalk, two new boat docks and more open park space.

Nancy Townsend, director of community development for the city, says the plans are the result of ongoing feedback from the community and will also serve as catalysts for private development, which will provide a long-term return on investment.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Townsend said the input from the community has been very important.

“We undertook a really big community input effort initially, even going back a couple of years ago, using the community just to inform us on what kind of things they would see that would work, that they would want for Phase I and then we’ve also carried those same requests and desires into Phase II,” said Townsend. “There’s been so much support for riverfront public space development … that our community supported a local income tax increase, in large part, to construct this riverfront area.”

The Phase II plans also include an additional section of the Tree Canopy Trail with two overlooks, along with new signage and more access points to the river. 

The city says the public open space for Phase II will stretch along the north side of St. Mary’s River from Clinton Street to Harrison Street and from the Wells Street bridge to Ewing Street. It also stretches along the south side of the river at the Ewing Street bridge along Superior Street toward Promenade Park, as well as a section between Harrison Street and Headwaters Park.

Promenade Park was the $20 million first phase of the riverfront project, which opened in 2019. Townsend says the first phase led to much interest from private developers, including two major mixed-use development projects in the city’s Riverfront District.

“It’s already working in terms of the private investment coming, demonstrating that we’ll get a return on our investment,” Townsend said.

Townsend adds the public response to the first phase of the project has been “overwhelming in the best possible way.”

“It’s a space and a place for everyone and we’re going to continue that in all future phases in terms of there’s not an additional costs to access the trails or the walkways or the features,” she said. “Social media has been so positive. The renting and leasing of the pavilion – it’s practically booked solid. There is a robust amount of activity and you see people of all ages, all socioeconomic makeup, and we’re just really proud of the reaction.”

Construction on Phase II is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall of 2022.

“Riverfront development continues to grow and succeed in Fort Wayne,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a news release. “I’m encouraged that we’re positioned for the next phase in our ongoing efforts to bring more people and private investment to our community. By working together, the possibilities are limitless for what can happen in our City. Our best days are ahead of us.”

The city will today hold an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to present the plans and designs for the second phase to the public, including updates on ongoing construction projects and anticipated construction schedules. The open house will take place at the Park Foundation Pavilion at Promenade Park.