Local developers ready for Riverfront Phase III as Fort Wayne starts Phase II

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A private group of local investors, led by Eric Doden of Domo Development, is ready to move on Fort Wayne Riverfront Phase Three but the city has just started Phase Two.

The group hopes the proposed $150 million mixed-use project on the St. Mary’s River near High Street would lure another corporate headquarters to the downtown area. Developers need the city to make improvements on an accelerated timeline.

Doden doesn’t see that as a problem. “What we’re recommending is that we take Phase Two, which we’re in favor of, between the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and the current Promenade Park and we combine that Phase Two with this – what they now call Phase Three and make it Phase Two.”

Nancy Townsend, Redevelopment Director for the City of Fort Wayne, is less confident. She sees a need for additional financial resources to do both simultaneously and doesn’t think the city can pivot. “I mean we have Phase Two literally under design right now. I’ve talked to permitting agencies. So abandoning Phase Two (for) Phase Three would be very challenging and probably not wise from efficiency or affordability in the use of public funds.”

An email from the mayor’s office cited many current projects taking public money: The Riverfront at Promenade Park, Electric Works, The Bradley Hotel and The Ashberry Project. The email includes future projects such as The Lofts at Headwaters Park and the proposed $150 million soccer stadium on the North River site, which will include restaurants, residential and office space. “Over the past decade, downtown revitalization efforts have resulted in nearly $1 billion of investment in the heart of Fort Wayne.”

Doden believes turn-key office space is critical to bring a new company to Fort Wayne. Workers and residents would be steps away from an improved Bloomingdale Park and have access to downtown restaurants and retail via a pedestrian bridge, which the city has included in Phase Three. “It would be a nice feature for not just our residents but the entire community.”

The High Street project would be done in two phases, with room to grow in the future. “It’s about 140,000 square foot of office space and about 360 units of apartments in phase one. Our phase two is a little over 100,000 square foot of additional office space with another 309 apartments.” If successful, the project could eventually extend to Wells Street, but that land has not been acquired, Doden says.

In an email, Doden explained the costs:

  • We estimate that the road with roundabout is $9 Million
  • We estimate that the park as designed by MKM is $40 Million
  • We estimate the phase 1 parking garage is $22 Million
  • We estimate that our phase 1 office and residential projects will be approximately $75 Million
  • We estimate that phase 2 office and residential projects will be approximately $75 Million 
  • We estimate estimate that the parking garage for phase 2 will be $19 Million

In December of 2019, the city explained the remaining two phases of riverfront development on riverfrontfortwayne.org:

Designs for Phase II incorporate the levee, allowing residents to walk to the top and then relax in gathering spaces where they can enjoy the views and access other park amenities. Construction on Phase II is expected to begin in the next 12-18 months. Highlights include:

  • Space for short-term boat, kayak and canoe docking;
  • A variation of the tree canopy trail in Promenade Park that connects to an overlook deck on the 3rd Street Pump Station;
  • A wetland path;
  • A terraced lawn with amphitheater seating; and
  • Space to build a future private restaurant and public restrooms.

Phase III would not be constructed until after completion of Phase II. Highlights of this phase include:

  • A wetland boardwalk through Guldlin and Bloomingdale parks;
  • A lookout tower that residents and visitors can climb;
  • A pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south sides of the St. Marys River;
  • An enhanced boat ramp with additional parking;
  • A relocated levee in Bloomingdale Park, which would allow for more storage of floodwater;
  • A lawn bowl that could be used for sledding in the winter;
  • A nature play area for children; and
  • Recreation areas including basketball courts.

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