Fort Wayne Seeks Funding for North River Development
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry says a major project at the North River site near the city’s downtown will require some public money to become a reality. However, according to our partners at WPTA-TV, the city isn’t clear on how much taxpayer money would be needed for the project, which would include a professional soccer stadium, hotel and events center.
The development plans were announced at the mayor’s State of the City address earlier this week. The proposed project would also feature a fieldhouse, residential housing and retail.
“This new facility will enable us to attract visitors as well as enhance the quality of life of the people who live here, who also like the sport of soccer,” said Dan O’Connell, president of Visit Fort Wayne. “So tourism has that value of creating an environment to invite people in, yet entertain people who live here too.”
According to the TV station, a 1% increase in the city’s food and beverage tax is one possible source of public revenue that could be used for the project. The mayor has pledged that the increase would not kick in until businesses have had time to rebound from the pandemic.
However, city and state officials have previously said they would not pursue legislation to allow cities to approve a food and beverage tax increase
Additionally, the city says the $280 million Electric Works mixed-use innovation district project at the former General Electric campus has depleted a lot of the cash the city uses to provide incentives to spur commercial developments.
“A lot of funding went to the Electric Works project, that was an important project, one that we supported, we’re excited that construction was started and we’re optimistic about the future, but we also know with other projects coming down the pipeline, North River being one of them, that there’s going to need to be financial resources in place to make sure that it gets across the finish line,” said John Perlich, with Mayor Henry’s administration.
The city says the site, which was formerly home to OmniSource, is part of a Memorandum of Understanding to make way for construction.
While the details aren’t finalized, the city says the development is expected to be used for professional soccer games, and would host youth soccer and other types of sporting events and concerts.
The city says the complex would be a public-private partnership.