North River’s “Unspecified Regional Attraction”

Indiana Economic Digest reported in 2007:

“Fort Wayne is overbuilt in retail right now,” Dahm said. “I think the water-park idea probably has some merit. The residential type has some merit. I just think the retail is a small segment of it.”

The city has an option that expires Dec. 31 to purchase the 29-acre OmniSource property just north of downtown for $4.3 million. City planners think the site could be another catalyst for downtown redevelopment.

The conceptual plan is anchored on the north by an unspecified regional attraction that would be surrounded by retail space and townhouses. If developers could not find a regional attraction for the site, that portion also could become retail space.

North River Now was largely a general framework for eventual development ideas, but several design principles were set forth during the process.

During the Legacy Fort Wayne process, Headwaters Junction was listed as a project that “fit within existing community plans,” and the following principles demonstrate how.

•Celebrate the river as a focal point of the downtown area, integrate it with the existing neighborhoods, and examine opportunities to improve public access and recreational opportunities on the river.
• Ensure that investments of public money at the site will be fiscally responsible and create ongoing, sustainable economic returns for the community.
• Encourage walking and biking throughout the site by creating attractive, safe, and contiguous pedestrian and bicycle connections that link to surrounding areas.
•Develop standards to promote high quality design that creates a unique sense of place and an attractive public realm, and which ties in with the historic character of the area. Capitalize on historic assets such as the freight house and the old canal.
• Ensure that the site relates to and complements existing assets such as Science Central, Imagine School, Lawton Park, Headwaters Park, and the downtown skyline from the river.
• Create a walkable downtown neighborhood north of the river with an identifiable landmark, focal point, and/or large public gathering space (i.e. fountain, canal, or marketplace).
• Provide for a mix of uses – such as residential, commercial, entertainment, and open space – that reflects the urban nature of the site, attracts a diverse population, and promotes vibrant activities in the downtown area. Provide for diverse housing types.
• Design the site in a manner that respects nearby residential neighborhoods and generates positive impacts for those who live nearby.
•Recognize that the site represents an opportunity to expand downtown in a way that reflects the principles established in the Blueprint for the Future and BlueprintPlus plans.
•Promote commercial activity on the site that complements rather than competes with nearby businesses and keeps within the scale of the community.
•Ensure that any new development should avoid harm to the floodplain and serve as an opportunity to apply green building technology.
•Leverage private investment to create a family-oriented, local and regional destination that will attract visitors year-round.

In addition, citizen input resulted in the following responses during a series of community workshops:

Imagine it is 10 years from now, what types of uses do you see at the North River site?
• Small retail shops
• Fort Wayne history and urban themes

What are some of the traits or characteristics of the uses you envision at the site? [/faq_title] • Density and design
• Urban features
• Connection to the river
• Fort Wayne history
Now that you have a vision for potential development on the site, what do you see as the relationship between the site and the surrounding area including the river and nearby attractions?
• Linkages between the site and surrounding areas
• Pedestrian linkages to the river
• Greenways connecting downtown, Lawton Park, Science Central, and Wells Street