Just one proposal submitted for ‘North River’ site; plan believed to include rail park and ‘event center’

Trine University's new basketball arena is said to be a model for a similar facility proposed for the "North River" property. (Courtesy image)
turntable that would allow trains to move in many directions is included in plans for Headwaters Junction. (Courtesy image)

Just one proposal to redevelop the so-called “North River” property by this week’s deadline — a plan that reportedly includes a railroad-themes attraction, housing and a scaled-down version of an arena/event center.

Although four groups in March expressed interest in submitting proposals, just one — Minnesota-based Continental Property Group — actually did so, according to city spokesman John Perlich. Biggs Property Group, Great Lakes Capital and IU Health also had initially expressed interest.

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As The News-Sentinel reported earlier this month, it is believed Continental’s proposal incorporates Headwaters Junction, housing and an “event center” modeled after the new basketball arena at Trine University in Angola. Representatives of Hagerman Group presented the project for funding consideration by the Capital Review Board earlier this month. The event center could cost about $25 million and accommodate the Mad Ants basketball team, concerts and a variety of other activities.

Supporters of Headwaters Junction, which would showcase the restored and operational Nickel Plate Locomotive No. 765, have said the attraction would include three phases: construction of a narrow-gauge train to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo at a cost of up to $5 million; acquisition of land and right-of-way to build the railroad and install a turntable at up to $4 million; and construction of a roundhouse and interpretive facility for up to $9 million.

Even though Continental’s was the lone proposal, there is no guarantee the city will accept its vision for the 29-acre former industrial site the city bought for $4.63 million last year. Perlich said the proposal will now be evaluated to see if it is a “good fit, if the proposal is feasible, and if the proposal is in the best interest of the community.”

Continental officials did not return a call seeking comment, and the city did not immediately grant The News-Sentinel’s request to view its proposal.

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