Designs on downtown
What began as the Riverfront Project has spawned other ambitious ventures north and south of the St. Marys River.
The reimagining of Fort Wayne began at the south end of downtown, with Parkview Field, the Harrison and the library. Now there is development in the works in every direction, including two new hotels and the ambitious Electric Works project.
Today we offer a quick update on efforts that will bring restaurants, retail stores, residences and more to the north end of downtown.
1. Promenade Park
A floating band performance, community art projects, lighted boat parade, butterfly release and boat rides will help mark the grand opening of the first phase of the Riverfront project. But those who have been waiting to enjoy Promenade Park will have to wait a few weeks longer: Because of our extra-rainy spring, the festivities planned for mid-June have been set back to Aug. 9-11.
The park, on the banks of the St. Marys between Harrison Street and the old Wells Street Bridge, will feature an amphitheater, a band shell, dining gardens and a “kids’ canal,” as well as river access for boating tours. There are plans for restaurants and retail stores along the south bank.
2. The Landing
The $32.6 million makeover of Fort Wayne’s most historic block is nearing completion. Kirk Moriarty, director of business development at Greater Fort Wayne Inc., said last week The Landing is already signing up residential tenants.
Commercial tenants will include a restaurant being developed by Cunningham Restaurant Group, which is known for unique restaurants in Indianapolis and elsewhere; 3BG Supply Co., a local technology and distribution business; and Utopian Coffee, which has plans to develop a coffee bar. Utopian’s owner, Brendon Maxwell, is also partnering with Caleb France, owner of the well-regarded Cerulean restaurant in Winona Lake, to develop a brewery/barbecue restaurant.
Moriarty said the streetscape portion of the development will be finished by August.
3. Headwaters south plan?
Two other mixed-use riverside projects are in the development stage. An Indianapolis developer is talking with the city about turning the parking lot north of Club Soda into a residential-retail center with a parking lot. Fort Wayne Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said Wednesday a development agreement could be in place by the end of summer and construction could begin before the end of the year.
Plans for another residential-retail-parking complex, on the northeast corner of Harrison and Superior streets, were put on hold in February after the city determined a Minnesota-based company could not meet the terms of its agreement. Townsend said the city will soon choose from among five applicants to carry a similar project forward. “We don’t anticipate construction until early to mid-2020,” she said. Under the original developers, the proposed structure was to be called the HIVE. City spokesman John Perlich said the project will be given a new name after a developer is chosen.
4. Headwaters Junction
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s bold vision is Headwaters Junction, a railroad-themed attraction at the north end of the North River property, directly west of Science Central. The multimillion-dollar project has overcome one major obstacle by securing a purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern for 1.4 miles of railroad right of way but still needs about 8 acres of property for a restored passenger depot and working roundhouse. That piece of the project, on the former OmniSource site now owned by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, could be incorporated into a pending report from David Rubin Land Collective, the city’s riverfront development consultant. With the historic steam locomotive No. 765 operating occasionally, the mixed-use development proposed at the site could become a major attraction for visitors and area residents alike.
5. Baltes-Cambray Building
The Baltes-Cambray Building really gets around. In January 2018, to make way for the Promenade Park development, the structure was lifted off its foundation and moved from the northwest corner of Harrison and Superior streets to a temporary location on the northeast side. In February, the building, which formerly housed a construction-supply business, was moved to the intersection’s southeast corner.
Don Hall’s Restaurants is now studying how to turn the building into a restaurant in the heart of downtown river development. The first step is renovating the 19th-century structure, company President Bud Hall said Thursday.
“We’re in the process right now of evaluating what we are going to save, and what we are not going to save,” he said. The restaurant will be a two-story structure with an American grill-type menu, similar in size to Club Soda, Hall said. “I’ve got some real talented chefs that work for me, and they’ll come up with some cool menu items.” But plans aren’t far enough along to predict an opening date, he said.