March 31, 2014 – Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry officially opened the new Envision Fort Wayne Center, 916 S. Calhoun St. The Center is a downtown storefront that will provide citizens with ways to learn about and contribute to community projects such as Riverfront Fort Wayne and the Downtown Fort Wayne Plan 2020 Update.
“Fort Wayne is on the cutting-edge for a community our size to have this outstanding center for public engagement,” said Mayor Henry. “It will provide an unprecedented way for citizens to engage with government and the community.”
A grant from the Knight Foundation is covering the costs for the rent, utilities, furnishings and equipment at the Envision Fort Wayne Center. City Planning Department employees will staff the Center and discuss ideas with visitors Tuesdays 2-6 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Additional hours will be added during downtown festivals and events.
Currently, the Envision Fort Wayne Center is filled with displays about riverfront development. Educational information about development opportunities and constraints, river water quality, river history and successful riverfronts in other communities is all available for the public to see. Throughout the riverfront study process, the displays will change and citizens will have opportunities to express opinions about possible riverfront concepts. Citizens may stop in any time the Center is open or schedule a time for their group to visit by emailing
“The Envision Fort Wayne Center is an ideal venue for gathering input from the public regarding our riverfront work,” said Pam Holocher, deputy director of planning and policy. “The Center will also have many other uses, including housing a summer internship program for urban design and architecture students and serving as a continual ‘open house’ allowing citizens to connect with City government.”
March 17, 2014 - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Parks Director Al Moll in cooperation with the Youth Sports Advisory Committee have received the community assessment and market-potential study for building on Fort Wayne’s reputation as a youth-sports destination. The study provides recommendations for facilities, organizational structure and support, and youth sports marketing and branding, both locally and regionally.
Henry, Moll and the committee will evaluate the findings and release their recommendations in a separate announcement later this year.
“This study affirms that Fort Wayne is truly a destination for youth sports yet offers opportunities for our residents,” Mayor Henry said. “I look forward to reviewing the recommendations more closely with the advisory committee and identifying initiatives that will enhance what we have and create new ways to engage local youth and families from across the Midwest and country.”
Aquarius Sports and Entertainment of Gaithersburg, Md., and Victus Advisors of Park City, Utah, evaluated the existing youth sports community through surveys, focus groups, interviews and a public meeting last year. Additionally they were charged with identifying opportunities to increase Fort Wayne’s market potential.
Highlights of the recommendations are:
*An outdoor multisport field complex with 12 to 18 fields for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and field hockey with synthetic turf, lighting, locker rooms and a championship field with bleacher seating and lighting.
*A new or expanded baseball and softball complex with eight or more fields.
*Leverage existing programs and operational infrastructure to create a regional adaptive-sports hub with the potential for national reach to serve athletes with disabilities.
*A new sports commission with a board of directors and full-time executive director focused on youth sports. The report recommends the yet-to-be-formed commission to enhance local youth sports through attracting regional events and developing new commission-specific events, building Fort Wayne’s reputation for youth sports, and creating a youth sports foundation to serve children from low-income households and adaptive sports participants.
Marketing and branding:
*Position Fort Wayne as the premier regional youth sports destination through the unique combination of facilities, proximity to other Midwestern cities, affordable lodging, family-friendly attractions and the community’s reputation for Hoosier hospitality.
“The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is excited about being a partner in growing the Fort Wayne youth sports market. Some of these suggestions fit squarely with Parks’ mission of providing facilities and programs that enhance the local quality of life,” Director Moll said. “Others, such as the potential for a sports commission, are better suited for other organizations. Either way, Parks was pleased to be involved in this study and look at how we can better serve youth through sports.”
Legacy Fort Wayne funds paid for the $115,000 study.
February 24, 2014 – The public is invited to share their vision for Fort Wayne’s downtown riverfront at two public input meetings.
Both meetings will take place at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library in the auditorium. The meetings are set for:
*Wednesday, March 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., with a presentation at 5:45 p.m.
*Thursday, March 13 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., with a presentation at 11:15 a.m.
“Public input is critical to the success of our riverfront study,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “This is everyone’s riverfront and the final designs need to reflect the hopes and dreams of our entire community.”
In November 2013, the City contracted with SWA Group to conduct the Riverfront Study, which is the first comprehensive look at enhancing the use of our City’s rivers; it is intended to provide the road map to a world class investment. During the public input meetings, SWA will provide an overview of the data collected and preliminary development concepts. The consulting team will then listen to citizens’ vision for the downtown riverfront; the team will use this input to create designs and implementation strategies.
SWA Group, an urban planning, design and landscape architecture firm working worldwide from seven locations, is the lead consultant on the study. They have extensive expertise in riverfront development in the U.S. and around the world. SWA’s team includes Fort Wayne-based MKM Architecture + Design; Market Feasibility Advisors; Biohabitats; Moffatt & Nichol; Empower Results; and AMEC.
January 10, 2014 – Mayor Tom Henry today proposed investing $3 million in Legacy funds in the University of Saint Francis downtown campus. The Mayor was joined by University President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, at the USF Performing Arts Center, one of two downtown buildings that would be renovated with the help of Legacy dollars.
“The University of Saint Francis has already made a significant commitment to the revitalization of downtown Fort Wayne with the purchase of the former Chamber of Commerce Building and the former Scottish Rite,” said Mayor Henry. “The university’s plans to renovate these buildings and fill them with 250 to 300 students will advance educational attainment and the continuing positive momentum in our vibrant and exciting downtown. We’re investing in our future with a strong commitment to education and quality of life.”
“A downtown university presence will create cultural activities that attract a diverse creative class, ignite social activity and could lead to the establishment of niche businesses,” said President Kriss. “We haven't developed the downtown campus yet, and already the university’s proprietary programs and events have brought 25,000 people downtown to the USF Performing Arts Center.”
The Higher Education Opportunity Fund was created as part of Legacy Fort Wayne and is intended to provide higher-learning nonprofit institutions up to a $3 million, 3-to-1 match for capital investments. The investments must be made in downtown Fort Wayne or surrounding core neighborhoods. The Opportunity Fund has a limited amount of dollars available and applications are considered as they are submitted.
The university plans to renovate a significant portion of the 120,000 square feet of space. Renovations at the two buildings, 826 Ewing St., the former Chamber building, and 431 W. Berry St., the former Scottish Rite, will cost approximately $12.3 million. The building at 826 Ewing will be home to the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership and will connect students with local businesses, addressing “brain drain” and creating a pool of talented candidates for the region’s jobs.
The building at 431 W. Berry will house the USF Music Technology and Media Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts (META) programs. It will offer collaborative workspace for students, recording studios, video production facilities, rehearsal space, facilities and offices. The building also houses a 2,000 seat auditorium, which is open for public rental, drawing even more people downtown.
The university estimates that 250 to 300 students will be enrolled in majors based at the downtown campus, with capacity to grow to 500. It’s expected that the work will create 86 construction jobs, eight permanent jobs and bring 23 existing jobs downtown. Pending progress in the fundraising plan, officials hope to start construction in 2014.
The proposal to provide Legacy funding to the University of Saint Francis downtown campus will be introduced to City Council on January 14. Discussion of the proposal is planned for January 21 with possible final passage on January 28.
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"Today (Oct. 28, 2010) is a good day for the people of Fort Wayne," said Mayor Tom Henry. "This settlement will strengthen Fort Wayne and better position us for economic growth. Not only does it provide an important income stream, it ensures that I&M continues to provide quality service to the area."