Railroad park at North River touted

By July 25, 2018News and Updates

The first of several planned community input and outreach sessions prompted some recent coverage of the Headwaters Junction project as it has joined one of the development teams vying for the opportunity to create a world-class destination at North River.

Headwaters Junction planners pitch to public before city

As reported in the Journal Gazette:

“…Headwaters Junction Inc. has partnered with Continental Property Group and Design Collaborative to envision a mixed-use, downtown development that would house the No. 765 steam locomotive with a roundhouse, amid other attractions.

…The partnership is among four groups that submitted applications this year when city officials requested qualifications for developing the 29-acre site along Clinton Street just north of downtown.

Biggs Group, Great Lakes Capital and Indiana University Health also submitted paperwork outlining relevant past projects and their public-private partnership experience.

The city’s goal, according to the 13-page request for qualification, is to find firms “interested in developing the North River property in a creative way that builds on the community’s vision for Riverfront and is compatible with and further catalyzes the surrounding neighborhoods, corridors and the downtown.”

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. has advocated for a STEAM park on the site. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. As envisioned by economic development officials, the park would provide education in all five disciplines and include an entertainment complex and a saltwater aquarium.

Asked Tuesday about what building Headwaters Junction would mean for a STEAM park, Ron Dick, an architect with Design Collaborative, said he believes Headwaters Junction would fulfill the hopes of building an economically viable tourist destination.

While responding to another audience question, Dick said he sees Headwaters Junction and Electric Works, the proposed redevelopment of the former General Electric campus, as complementary projects rather than competing ones.

Joe Dunaway, Continental Property Group’s development director, said after the meeting that the former metals recycling site has some environmental issues that make it viable for a development such as Headwaters Junction.

A health care provider would have to spend significantly more to transform the land into a suitable site for a hospital, but it could be done, he said.

Concerns about contamination at the property prompted some City Council members to vote against the city’s $4.63 million purchase of the land. The sales agreement absolves the Rifkin family, who owned the property for many years, from financial liability for future environmental cleanup.

Lynch doesn’t harbor any doubts that anyone who experiences the steam locomotive No. 765 will fall in love with it. He hopes they get that chance at Headwaters Junction.

“When you see it, you get it,” he said after the public meeting. “The engine is its own superstar. I’m just its cheerleader.”

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