UPDATED: Fort Wayne expands riverfront development area, seeks consultant to assist with Phases II and III

Promenade Park, which is under construction now along the St. Marys River, highlights phase I of the project. (Courtesy illustration)

The city of Fort Wayne is seeking a consultant to help plan and design Phases II and III of downtown riverfront development, which it also has expanded east along St. Marys River to the North River property it purchased recently.

Phase II initially consisted of the stretch of the St. Marys from the Historic Wells Street Bridge west to the Ewing Street bridge.

It now includes that area, plus the section of the St. Marys from Harrison Street to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. bridge on South Clinton Street, which passes in front of the North River property, said Paul Spoelhof, a senior planner with the city’s Community Development Department.

“It didn’t make any sense to us to leave that section of the river out of this project when the private development is near-term,” said Spoelhof, who will discuss the request for consultant applications during the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department’s board of park commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 30 at Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.

Phase I of downtown riverfront development, which consists mainly of the new Promenade Park, already is under construction along the St. Marys between the Historic Wells Street Bridge and Harrison Street. It is scheduled for completion by spring 2019.

The near-term development east of there includes the likely high private-sector interest in the North River property — about 29 acres at the northwest corner of South Clinton and Fourth streets — as well as a new proposed development announced in December at the northeast corner of Harrison and Superior streets, he said.

The project at Harrison and Superior will be a $61.7 million investment involving a seven-story building including 150 apartment homes, about 20,000 square feet of retail space and a parking garage containing about 1,000 spaces, a city news release said. Work on the project could start this spring and be finished by fall 2019.

This stretch of river also passes by the west side of Headwaters Park.

Expanding the riverfront area being developed can increase the cost of the work, but city officials realize they are working within a budget, Spoelhof said. Adjustments would have to be made to the project to keep it within budget.

Phase II and III of downtown riverfront development are being supported by the .13 percent increase in the local option income tax, which Fort Wayne City Council approved in July.

Phase III includes the area along the St. Marys River from the Ewing Street bridge to the Van Buren Street Bridge adjacent to Guldlin Park.

Phase II work could cost $25 to $30 million, but the actual price will depend on what gets built there, Spoelhof said. The city has the capacity to issue up to about $65 million in bonds to help finance the cost of the public-sector portions of Phases II and III, he said.

Phase III, in particular, will have to address what options are available for managing flooding in the downtown riverfront area and how that impacts what development is possible in the Phase III area, he said.

City officials, with public input, previously have developed a general concept for downtown riverfront development, Spoelhof said. They now want to bring in a consultant to fill in the details by developing a master design, architectural and landscape plan for the riverfront and a strategy on how to implement it.

City staff, for example, don’t have all of the expertise needed to deal with the many issues involving development along rivers, he said. Devoting their time to a major project like riverfront development would mean much of the work they do now wouldn’t get done.

They also want input from people who can bring in new ideas, Spoelhof said.

“What we really want are the best ideas from around the country and around the world,” he said.

From that array of creative suggestions, people here can select what makes sense for Fort Wayne, he said.

The final product won’t be an island, Spoelhof added. The design should connect it to the rest of downtown and to neighborhoods adjacent to downtown.


Here are more details about the city’s invitation for consultants to apply to plan, design and guide Phase II and III of downtown riverfront development:

• The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is in charge of coordinating the development and maintenance of public spaces in the riverfront development area, said Paul Spoelhof, a senior planner with the city’s Community Development Department. The city’s departments of Community Development and Redevelopment will manage private development along the riverfront.

• Interested consultants must submit their statement of qualification by March 16, a parks department news release said. Finalists will be interviewed in April, and the city expects to select a consultant in May.

• The selection committee will include representatives from the parks department; the city’s departments of City Utilities, Redevelopment, Community Development and Public Works; Allen County commissioners; and Greater Fort Wayne, the news release said. Committee members will review and rank all of the consultant proposal submitted.

• The city believes the consulting work will take nine to 12 months, the news release said.

• The city hopes to start construction in 2020 on Phase II of downtown riverfront development, the news release said.


The city wants consultants’ implementation and design plans to include:

• A riverfront neighborhood master plan that provides development guidance for public and private projects that will continue to emerge over the next 10 years or more.

• Reports and recommendations for a variety of infrastructure, environmental, archeological, historical and hydraulic issues related to the river and development adjacent to it.

• Engineered designs and related cost estimates for improvements, including park amenities and flood-protection features, to public space near the river.

• Reports and recommendations on regulations and specific things the city and its partners can do to remove obstacles to development and to encourage the plan’s implementation.

People can read the entire RFQ, titled QBS 4284-Riverfront Development Implementation Framework, at http://bidding.cityoffortwayne.org/city.php.


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