Riverfront design team leader looking forward to Fort Wayne downtown riverfront work

David Rubin is a principal with David Rubin Land Collective, which the city of Fort Wayne has selected to lead design and planning for Phases II and III of downtown riverfront development. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

People will be at the center of all aspects of the design and planning for Phases II and III of downtown Fort Wayne riverfront development, David Rubin said this afternoon.

“We need for it to be something people use,” Rubin said.

The principal architect with David Rubin Land Collective of Philadelphia spoke with media early this afternoon at the boat dock in the St. Marys River on the west side of Headwaters Park.

Rubin’s appearance followed the announcement this morning by the city of Fort Wayne that Rubin’s firm has been selected to lead the planning and design of Phases II and III of downtown riverfront development.

The $2.5 million contract, which still must be approved by Fort Wayne City Council, will be funded through the .13 percent increase in the local income tax the council approved last year, the city’s announcement said.

Rubin’s firm will be responsible for developing a Fort Wayne riverfront master plan and a plan identifying any street, sewer and flood-protection work that needs to be done to support riverfront development, the announcement said. The firm also will create design improvements for the riverbank public space in the development area.

Rubin said they will seek input from neighborhood residents, community organizations and others as they gather ideas and develop design plans.

“Really, the end result should be a reflection of them,” he said.

Some residents living in neighborhoods just outside of downtown have voiced concern about the amount of money the city is investing in riverfront development and possibly in the Electric Works project, which would redevelop the former General Electric factory complex on Broadway into an area featuring housing, offices, educational space, a maker space, farmers market, restaurants and more.

Those residents have said their neighborhoods also need substantial investment in streets, sewers and other improvements.

Rubin believes neighborhoods along the river eventually will benefit from downtown riverfront development, even if they are upstream or downstream from the actual development work. Part of the design plans his firm is responsible for involves creating areas for private development along the river.

Phase I under construction now involves building Promenade Park on the north and south banks of the St. Marys River between the Historic Wells Street Bridge and Harrison Street.

Phase II will extend riverfront development west from the Historic Wells Street Bridge to the Ewing Street Bridge and east from Harrison Street to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge at Clinton Street.

Rubin said his firm is excited about working in Fort Wayne and enjoys working on riverfront projects.

Rivers often are where cities were founded, the waterways played key roles in their early development, he said. After those early industries faded, however, the riverfront area often has been forgotten.

In recent years, he said climate change also has made water levels more varied in rivers as areas receive more frequent, intense rainfall. But there are ways to design for those changes and to keep areas safe from flooding.

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