Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden says the state’s second-largest city is experiencing a "real uptick" in interest from outside developers. He gives some of the credit to the statewide Regional Cities Initiative, which was recently fully funded by the General Assembly. Doden tells Inside INdiana Business developers are drawn to city’s "compelling vision" and ability to bridge public-private funding gaps. One high-profile developer, Baltimore-based Cross Street Partners, has visited the city three times in four months.
Josh Parker and Bill Struever, partners with the company, have been involved with previous major developments in the past, including Tide Point in Baltimore, the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, North Carolina and the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says the city is now "in their sights." Doden says the developers were impressed by Fort Wayne’s "great bones," which includes projects open for redevelopment like the former General Electric campus. Cross Street and others have also been drawn to downtown projects including the ongoing $100 million riverfront revamp, proposed $30 million Landing on Columbia Street redevelopment and a new $85 million downtown arena being pitched.
Parker says "developing new sites or redeveloping historic sites would not be as compelling were it not for the entire vision for the community, including the downtown arena and the riverfront. We’ve seen that Fort Wayne understands the importance of leadership by anchor institutions and public-private partnerships in completing the type of large scale and complex development efforts that we undertake. The Regional Cities Initiative is an especially compelling option in the toolbox to help fill funding gaps and make these projects a reality."
Doden says he is meeting regularly with out-of-state developers from Portland, Houston and Denver, as well as interested parties locally and from other parts of the state.
Doden says one compliment he heard involves Fort Wayne’s “great bones.”