Residents anticipating next steps in riverfront development

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- Despite the increased cost of Fort Wayne’s riverfront development project, many people are excited that it is moving forward.

Last week, Mayor Tom Henry joined community leaders to unveil the schematic designs for the first phase of riverfront development.

Thursday, was an information session for the public to learn more about the riverfront schematic designs and next steps.

“I live downtown and I work downtown so I’m kind of a downtown snob,” said Laine Mello. “I think [it’s exciting] actually seeing the rendering and kind of putting yourself on those walk ways… and saying, ‘oh my gosh, that’s going to be me!'”

Development would occur in eight areas on the south and north sides of the St. Marys River between Harrison Street and the historic Wells Street Bridge.

The project will cost the city $20 million dollars, which is double the initial number. But community members say it’s well worth it.

“Doing things right costs you money and doing things right pays you back,” said Connie Haas Zuber. “I think it’s going to work.”

“To me it’s not about the money,” said Mello. “It’s about how is my life going to be impacted, how my children’s life is going to be impacted, and my children’s children’s life is going to be impacted”

Highlights of the plan include a promenade, park pavilion, and an elevated boardwalk… and city leaders said it’s only the beginning.

They anticipate future private riverfront development would occur in areas surrounding the public spaces.

“Having that be a catalyst for other things going downtown,” said Nathan Schall. “I think it’s really exciting especially from young people like me.”

After looking at the plans he said the design is a perfect mix of old and new.

“It really highlights the Wells Street Bridge and the Fort Wayne Outfitter, but also with the new pavilion and kind of blending the architecture styles,” said Schall.

The project is scheduled to be introduced to City Council on July 12. The contract investment of $1.7 million is part of the $6 million in Legacy funding previously approved by City Council.

If approved, city leaders hope to start construction by the end of 2017 with completion in mid-to-late 2018.

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