New plan suggests ways to improve public spaces in downtown Fort Wayne

Downtown Fort Wayne has plenty of public spaces, but some could be better, a new study suggests. (Photo courtesy John McGauley)

The city’s Community Development Division has released the recently finalized Downtown Fort Wayne Public Realm Action Plan created by internationally recognized architecture and urban design firm, Gehl. The plan outlines possible pilot projects that would connect public spaces and encourage more people to visit downtown and stay for longer periods of time.

“This action plan provides ideas for building on our momentum and creating a vibrant, active and exciting downtown for all residents to enjoy,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement.

The Public Realm Action Plan provides an analysis of current downtown public spaces such as sidewalks, plazas, parks, alleys, underpasses and public buildings. The plan highlights areas that are well-utilized, such as alleys filled with murals and Barr Street when the public market is open. It also focuses on areas that could be better used to attract and keep more people downtown.

Finally, the plan suggests several pilot projects that could be initiated to activate downtown alleys and connect some of the area’s best assets. The plan suggests ways to temporarily turn alleys into retail corridors, event spaces and canvases for public art.

Next steps include the Community Development Division establishing an implementation team and seeking partnerships to begin work on the pilot projects. The city intends to finalize partnerships and begin testing ideas this summer.

The plan can be viewed online at: It was funded by Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne/Knight Foundation, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and the Community Development Division. Staffing was provided by the Planning & Policy Department.