Waynedale Political Commentaries


MAYOR TOME HENRYIt’s exciting to see the community’s vision of Legacy Fort Wayne beginning to take shape! Two weeks ago, I told you about a Riverfront Study we are seeking to have done, to come up with a plan to maximize our riverfront. In late February, we issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a study of youth sports opportunities in Fort Wayne. The RFP seeks proposals from qualified consultants to conduct a thorough Youth Sports Community Assessment and Market Potential Study.

The end goal is to build Fort Wayne into a regional and national destination for youth sports, which will boost our economy, as well as provide more sporting opportunities for our local youth.

The City’s Parks and Recreation and Planning and Policy departments will work together to ensure the successful development of the study. Proposals are due March 21 and selection of the consultant is expected to take place in mid-April. It’s anticipated the study will take up to six months to complete.

The community assessment will include an inventory of all existing public and private sports facilities, an evaluation of community needs, and an analysis of current youth sports marketing efforts. The market potential aspect of the study will evaluate national and regional youth/prep sports trends and markets, as well as possible opportunities for Fort Wayne. It will also include recommendations for future sports facility needs and ways to expand existing sports marketing efforts.

Very recently, Legacy Fort Wayne took another step forward: my administration extended an open invitation to colleges and universities, asking them to develop ideas that will help make the downtown area a hub for innovative learning experiences. To make this happen, the City of Fort Wayne created the Higher Education Opportunity Fund, which will 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. Letters were recently sent to college and university presidents throughout Indiana and the tri-state region, inviting them to submit potential projects to be funded.

The Opportunity Fund has a limited amount of dollars available and applications will be considered as they are submitted. The first step in the process is to contact Sharon Feasel, the City’s Higher Education Opportunity Fund manager, at 260-427-2107, to learn more about the criteria. All applications must include proposals for capital expenses and a long-term commitment to downtown or central urban neighborhoods.

Some of the criteria that will be considered include long-term commitment to downtown or core neighborhoods; emphasis on significantly increasing education and training downtown; a minimum project cost of $1 million, with a maximum grant from the fund of $3 million; number of jobs created; number of students regularly using the facility; whether the facility will serve as a catalyst for additional development and the innovative nature of the project.

We know how critical education is to the future success of our City. Education will lead to a skilled workforce that has the ability to compete for jobs. We’re excited about the opportunities that exist for there to be a strong educational presence downtown with hundreds of students. Innovative partnerships will help bring transformational change to our community.

As you know, recent investments in downtown education include the purchase of the Scottish Rite Center and the Chamber Building by the University of Saint Francis. In addition, Indiana Tech continues to make enhancements to its campus, along with the opening of a new law school in the fall.

The Legacy Fort Wayne Fund was created by proceeds from the sale of the City Light Utility to Indiana Michigan Power and its funds are to be used to create transformational change in the community. More information about the Riverfront or Youth Sports studies or the Higher Education Opportunity Fund can be viewed at www.legacyfortwayne.org.

On another subject, we just recently found out about another win for downtown Fort Wayne. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority recently announced that the Randall Lofts apartments in downtown Fort Wayne will receive nearly $675,000 annually for 10 years, in rental housing tax credits. Carmel-based RealAmerica Development plans to convert the historic building at 616 S. Harrison St. into one- and two-bedroom apartments.

This is great news for our City! Our downtown has truly become a destination, with Parkview Field, the new apartments at Harrison Square, the new condominiums at the Anthony Wayne Building, the Grand Wayne Convention Center, the Allen County Public Library and the many museums and activities in our central city.

The Randall Building – which is on the National Register of Historic Places –was originally constructed in 1905 and is the largest Victorian commercial block in Fort Wayne. Building renovation is estimated to cost $7.5 million, with the City of Fort Wayne contributing $600,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program 3 dollars.

RealAmerica is proposing to convert floors two through five into 44 apartments. The street-level floor will continue to be used for commercial purposes. Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer