I delivered my 12th State of the City address at the Grand Wayne Center recently. The theme was “Our Future is Now,” with an emphasis on the excitement and revitalization being experienced in downtown, record investments in neighborhood infrastructure improvements, and a continued commitment to public safety. The optimism and positive momentum we’re seeing are clear indications of why Fort Wayne’s future is now.
Here are some of the highlights of my speech:
Downtown development: Promenade Park, which is phase I of Riverfront Fort Wayne, will open in June. Work on phases II and III is underway to provide additional public spaces and future private investment to include dining, retail, and entertainment opportunities. The Landing will open later this year with housing units and commercial and retail space. Superior Lofts is open with 72 apartments as an adaptive re-use of a 1905 building.
Skyline Tower is open with apartments, a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and First Merchants Bank. The 136-room Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton will open in July next to Parkview Field, and at Main and Harrison streets, work will begin later this year on a new hotel led by Provenance Hotels and Barbara Baekgaard.
Neighborhood infrastructure: The City will invest $31 million in neighborhood infrastructure enhancements, which will be a new record. Since 2014, Fort Wayne has made $130 million in improvements to streets, roads, sidewalks, alleys, curbs, and street lights.
Public safety: Overall crime is down 15 percent. The Fort Wayne Police Department is adding 22 new police officers this year. The FWPD will continue to address homicides by adding more resources to the homicide unit. More personnel in the vice and narcotics unit will help in efforts to reduce drugs in Fort Wayne. The FWPD will also continue to lead and collaborate with partner agencies in the ongoing battle against drug addiction. The Fort Wayne Fire Department is making positive strides with equipment upgrades, new technology, and additional training. The FWFD is a leader in fire protection services, life-saving practices, and public outreach and education efforts. They’re accepting applications for firefighter positions now too, until March 8. There are details at www.FortWayne FireDepartment.org.
Job growth and economic development: In 2018, there were nearly 2,500 new job commitments, $115 million in new annual payroll, and a total private business investment of $336 million.
Parks: In addition to the riverfront development work, there will be $3 million in improvements to Fort Wayne’s award-winning parks this year.
City Utilities: Construction on the deep rock tunnel project, the largest infrastructure project in Fort Wayne history to reduce combined sewer overflows and clean our rivers, continues. There will also be $115 million invested in dozens of projects with proactive solutions in neighborhoods and at the water and sewer treatment plants.
National recognition: In the past year, Fort Wayne has been named a top city to move to by Reader’s Digest; the best place in Indiana to live by Business Insider and U.S. News and World Report; the lowest cost of living city for the third year in a row by Niche; the most affordable city for homeownership by SmartAsset; and one of the country’s best-run cities by WalletHub.
If you’d like, you can read the transcript, or watch the video of my State of the City address at this link: www.cityoffortwayne.org/latest-news/4334-mayor-henry-shares-how-fort-wayne-s-future-is-now-in-annual-state-of-the-city-address.html
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