In a Sunday editorial, Visit Fort Wayne endorsed a variety of ideas to help create the next big attraction in Fort Wayne, or as they called it “the next zoo,” referencing the wonderful, success, draw, and longevity of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

Fort Wayne’s planned riverfront development has a great deal of potential as a tourism asset.

First, there is room for another destination-defining asset in our community. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a prime example. The zoo has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. So the question is: What will be the next zoo? What will be our city’s next big attraction? I’m hoping that a strategically planned tourism development on the riverfront could be the next big thing for Fort Wayne and would make our city an even better visitor destination.

Second, the amount of land around the riverfront is significant, more than 30 acres. There is room for several areas of investment to serve both residents and visitors. A significant tourism-oriented investment would bring people back to the city’s urban core. Parkview Field is a perfect example of this type of development that appeals to both residents and visitors. We enjoy the ball games, but so do visitors. In fact, more than 1 in 3 attendees is from outside the county.

To become an even better tourism destination, we need to create more interactive, dynamic experiences for our city’s guests. With the opportunity on the riverfront, we have a chance to engage people and get them involved so that the experience is enjoyable and memorable.

So what tourism projects are we thinking about? Here are some of Visit Fort Wayne’s ideas for riverfront development:

We’re aware of one proposal that calls for a space to house the treasured 765 steam locomotive. Headwaters Junction would be a nod to Fort Wayne’s train history and showcase a unique, authentic asset.

That’s what visitors want in their tourism experiences – authentic and unique. It would also be synergistic with the other neighboring historic attractions, the Old Fort and Wells Street Bridge.

The Visit Fort Wayne Board of Directors believes that incorporating tourism ideas such as these into riverfront development will attract visitors, as well as add to the quality of life for residents. In addition, encouraging development by for-profit tourism businesses will bring new jobs and more spending into our economy too.

These are just a few of the ideas and possibilities to make the riverfront a viable tourist destination. I highly encourage you to submit these or your own ideas online at www.riverfrontfw.org.