New designs for riverfront development unveiled to the public

July 8th, 2016

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WPTA 21Alive


July 7, 2016

New designs for riverfront development unveiled to the public

Emily Dwire | WPTA 21Alive

Fort Wayne - At a public meeting Thursday night the people of Fort Wayne got to see for themselves what the riverfront will look like in a few years. It's a highly anticipated project with a 70-80% approval rating from the community.



It's been 4 months of hard work for the architecture team tasked with designing the site that Fort Wayne leaders hope will be a game-changer for the city.

Eight spots on the north and south side of the St. Mary's River, between the Wells St. Bridge and Harrison St. Bridge, will be developed.

"On the south side is a park that really opens its arms to the river, connecting to downtown, so it's really an urban plaza that really embraces the river," said the Principal Architect for Design Collaborative, Ron Dick.

It's there on the south side where you'll also find the park pavilion, water amenities and an area with stadium-style seating that can accommodate all kinds of activities. Across the river on the north bank, the designs build on the structures and businesses that already exist.

""there's a great stand of trees over there, Fort Wayne Outfitters is doing a great job of getting people on the river, putting them in kayaks, getting them in canoes, so we're just enhancing what already happens there," said Dick.

And he mentioned trees. Plans also include a Riverwalk Tree Canopy about 20-feet above the river that'll give you a great view of the fun that's going on down below and also a great view of the city.

City leaders often talk about the need to keep young, talented people in Fort Wayne. The folks behind the riverfront project think it hits the mark in that aspect. But what do millenials think? After all, they're the group the city is hoping to lock down.

"I think it's a really exciting project. What they were saying in the presentation about it being a catalyst for other things coming downtown, I think it's really exciting especially for younger people like me it's going to be a good incentive to stay in Fort Wayne," said Nathan Schall, a young man who lives in the city.

Schall is getting ready to head to Ball State University where he'll study urban design. He hopes to bring what he learns back to Fort Wayne and says the presentation gave him a chance to see how his skills could someday benefit the downtown area, much like with what's already happening with the riverfront.

As for the designs, he likes the mixture of old and new.

"I really like the blend of how they kept the character of Fort Wayne but are also looking toward the future. So really highlighting the Wells St. Bridge but also the new pavilion blending the architecture styles. That eclectic nature I thought was really cool," he said.

Riverfront Fort Wayne's mission is to energize and unite the community through moving experiences and extraordinary places. That's exactly what the minds behinds the designs envisioned when they finalized the plans.

"We wanted to create a space that is open to all, inclusive to all, young, old, able bodied, or those folks who want to get down to the river in a wheelchair or in any other means of operation. But really trying to become an inclusive park for everyone."

For the construction phase to begin, the Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners needs to acquire three properties along Superior and Harrison streets. In addition, a contract for final design, engineering development, construction documents, project bidding, and construction administration is scheduled to be introduced to City Council on July 12, with possible discussion on July 19, and possible final passage on July 26. The contract investment of $1.7 million is part of the $6 million in Legacy funding previously approved by City Council.

It’s anticipated construction could start in mid-to-late 2017 with completion in mid-to-late 2018, The project is projected to cost about $20 million.

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