Plans unveiled for phases two and three of riverfront development
Many key details still remain unanswered — including the sources of public and private funding for what is expected to be millions of dollars in development costs. But the city now has a general idea of what to expect from phases two and three of riverfront development.
In two Thursday afternoon sessions attended by about 300 people, city officials and consultants from DAVID RUBIN Land Collective revealed general designs for the next phases of riverfront improvements, some of which could be under construction within the next 12-18 months.
In the sessions held in the Park Foundation pavilion in Promenade Park — the first phase of the project — renderings were unveiled for the public spaces on the north and south sides of the St. Marys River, from Promenade Park to the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and from Promenade Park to the Ewing Street Bridge, which represents Phase II. They also presented Phase III public space concepts for the north and south sides of the St. Marys River from the Ewing Street Bridge west to the Van Buren Street Bridge.
In addition to the renderings for the public spaces, the Land Collective team revealed concepts for private development, and recommendations for land use and zoning, infrastructure, and flood management in the Riverfront District.
“Fort Wayne is definitely on a roll, making the transition into a city that is second to none,” Mayor Tom Henry told the crowd as he opened the first session. “Today we are taking the next steps in continuing our commitment of creating a vibrant Riverfront District that will become a welcoming destination for residents and visitors. These next phases will build on our extraordinary success with Promenade Park and encourage even more private development in the area.”
Designs for Phase II incorporate the levee, allowing residents to walk to the top and then relax in gathering spaces where they can enjoy the views and access other park amenities. Construction on Phase II is expected to begin in the next 12-18 months. Highlights include:
• Space for short-term boat, kayak and canoe docking;
• A variation of the tree canopy trail in Promenade Park that connects to an overlook deck on the 3rd Street Pump Station;
• A wetland path;
• A terraced lawn with amphitheater seating; and
• Space to build a future private restaurant and public restrooms.
Phase III would not be constructed until after completion of Phase II. Highlights of this phase include:
• A wetland boardwalk through Guldlin and Bloomingdale parks;
• A lookout tower that residents and visitors can climb;
• A pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south sides of the St. Marys River;
• An enhanced boat ramp with additional parking;
• A relocated levee in Bloomingdale Park, which would allow for more storage of floodwater;
• A lawn bowl that could be used for sledding in the winter;
• A nature play area for children; and
• Recreation areas including basketball courts.
Highlights of the private development concepts:
• Build on current private development successes, such as the Superior Lofts, the Boutique Hotel, The Landing, the Premier Riverfront site, and The Lofts at Headwaters Park;
• Concentrate development efforts around Promenade Park and move outward to have the greatest impact;
• Focus new private development on publicly owned sites near the downtown riverfront;
• Provide opportunities for a variety of residential options, including market rate, affordable, rental, and owner-occupied condos and townhomes.
Highlights of the zoning and land use recommendations:
• Extend the Downtown Edge Zoning District to the Riverfront District in order to encourage mixed-use development and building densities that are similar to downtown Fort Wayne (more than 60 percent of the riverfront area is currently zoned to allow industrial uses including salvage yards, factories and warehouses);
• Enhance design guidelines to promote sustainable and pedestrian-friendly streets, facilitate economic success and preserve access for all residents to the the rivers.
Highlights of infrastructure recommendations:
• Provide more compensatory storage for floodwaters that will continue to protect existing homes and buildings while providing more opportunities where private development can occur. This includes moving the levee north in Bloomingdale Park to allow for more storage; and
• Construct new roadways, where appropriate, to serve existing developed areas and new development areas.
Potential public funding sources could include tax increment financing, local income taxes and the city’s Legacy fund. City spokeswoman Mary Tyndall said several private entities have expressed interest in locating within the second and third phases, but no commitments have yet been made.
Thursday’s event was sponsored by Rothberg Logan Warsco LLC. Anyone who would like to see the presentation can find it on Facebook@RiverfrontFW. Anyone with questions or comments may email RiverfrontFW@CityofFortWayne.org.