Riverfront focus groups enthusiastic
By Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette
Riverfront phases 2 and 3 got underway Thursday with a focus group on planning and design.
Focus groups will continue with area residents and other stakeholders for the rest of the week. David Rubin, principal of David Rubin Land Collective, said that so far, he's been taken with the pride of place residents he's met with have shown for Fort Wayne. Land Collective is designing the second and third riverfront phases.
“They recognize that they have DNA here. The riverfront speaks of them and for them and that they have, what we most recently described in the context of this focus group, great diamonds in the rough,” Rubin said. “With a little bit of polish, it's going to be so attractive not only to other folks from Fort Wayne but to people from further afield.”
The goal, Rubin said, is to “reconstitute the gravity of Fort Wayne” to make it a place people want to visit from near and far.
“I just think that the joy and the optimism that I hear in these focus groups is fairly unique. Often, cities are plagued by significantly more challenges,” Rubin said. “It's not that Fort Wayne doesn't have challenges, it's not that the citizenry doesn't see those challenges. But there's a sense of overwhelming optimism that really buoys me toward the prospect of success.”
At the end of the process, Rubin said, the riverfront will marry private development with the city's constituency.
“It's incredibly important to us to actively listen to citizenry, to make sure they're heard and that we recognize their aspirations for success,” Rubin said.
“At the end, they should be able to see themselves in the construct we deliver back to them.”
The riverfront, Mayor Tom Henry said, is transformative for Fort Wayne.
“Unquestionably, the riverfront initiative is going to be one of those factors that's going to prove whether or not Fort Wayne is worth visiting and is worth investing in,” Henry said.
“Now that we're kind of finishing up phase 1 of riverfront, which is primarily the public contribution, we're now going into phases 2 and 3, which is going to be an emphasis on private investment as well as public.”