Firm Unveils Latest Riverfront Ideas

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A global consultant working with Fort Wayne on riverfront development has submitted its latest proposal, which it says would be unique to the city. SWA Group's plan includes a promenade connecting to the water as well as shopping, dining and residential areas.

October 30, 2014

News Release

Fort Wayne, Ind. -- Fort Wayne's riverfront plan is one step closer to being finalized and envisions a unique waterfront experience. The City's riverfront consultant, SWA Group, unveiled the latest version of the proposal at a public meeting this evening. The draft plan calls for a focus on nature, recreation and development with construction of a riverfront promenade being the first phase of the plan.

The promenade would be located on both the north and south banks of the St. Marys River. It would incorporate two levels, one lower to the water and one higher that would connect to shopping, dining and residential areas along Superior Street. Rooftop terraces and pedestrian bridges would also be part of the promenade area, as would Headwaters Junction, a rail-themed attraction and home to the historic 765 steam locomotive.

"We're envisioning a waterfront experience unique to Fort Wayne," said Kinder Baumgardner, president of SWA Group. "The combination of elements in this draft plan will create something extraordinary, something you will only find in Fort Wayne."

Another key element of the draft plan includes expanding Lawton Park into an active adventure area for all ages. A beach area would be built and would include water features and activities such as sand volleyball. A portion of Fourth Street would be closed and Tennessee Avenue would be extended to provide access to the park, where an adventure playground would take center stage. The playground could include elements such as a “rubber band” maze, climbing nets, unique treehouses, and giant slides and swings. A BMX bowl and expanded skate park are all part of the proposals. The Old Fort would be enhanced with access to the river, an event lawn and pedestrian bridges.

Still another focus would be on the confluence of the St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee rivers. SWA Group proposes lit pedestrian bridges that would form a sphere of light, adding emphasis to the beauty and importance of the area.

The Guildlin and Bloomingdale parks area would focus on connections to nature. Natural habitat would be restored, wetlands created, the boat launch improved and a new boat launch built. Paths and boardwalks would allow people to get close to wildlife. The central piece of the area would be an Urban Ecology Center, which could be created through a partnership with IPFW. The Ecology Center would be home to research, as well as public events and educational activities.

"We can't implement everything that's being proposed," said Pam Holocher, deputy director of Community Development. "We have to consider costs and feasibility, which will be done in the next phase of work. It will be critical to prioritize the elements that are most important to the community."

At the end of the public meeting, the attendees were asked to complete a brief survey indicating what elements were most important to them. A similar survey will be published on the riverfront website www.riverfrontfw.org within a week.

The public has one more opportunity to take a look at the latest riverfront designs. Another meeting is set for tomorrow, October 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Grand Wayne Center.

SWA Group was hired in November 2013 to complete the riverfront study, which is the first comprehensive look at enhancing the city’s rivers and will provide a road map for world class investment. The final plan is expected to be unveiled in January 2015.

Citizens wanting to stay connected to the Riverfront Fort Wayne initiative should visit www.RiverfrontFW.org and sign up for the electronic newsletter. They can also visit the Envision Fort Wayne Center, 916 S. Calhoun St., Tuesdays-Fridays from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.

Source: City of Fort Wayne