The first comprehensive study of how best to develop Fort Wayne's riverfronts – also the first major project funded through the city's “Legacy” fund – could get under way midyear.
City officials issued a request Tuesday for consulting firms to submit bids for the study, which could cost about half a million dollars and will look at possible retail, entertainment, housing and other options along the rivers.
“Many ideas have come forward, from restaurants to businesses to housing development,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a news conference. “Our hope is for the study to be a roadmap for world-class” development.
City Council agreed in December to put $500,000 of the Legacy fund – about $75 million from the lease and sale of the old City Light utility to Indiana Michigan power – toward the study.
Proposals by consulting firms to do the study are due April 12, and finalists will be interviewed in May, according to John Urbahns, director of community development for the city. Once a firm is chosen, possibly as late as July, a contract for the work will go to council for final approval, he said.
Once the study is finished, likely within nine to 18 months, the city will move quickly to put it into action, Urbahns said.
“This plan will move straight into implementation when done,” Urbahns said.
In a future round of Legacy spending, Henry is expected to seek a multimillion-dollar “set aside” to help implement the riverfront plan. The mayor has previously listed land acquisition and infrastructure as possible expenditures tied to the riverfront plan.
Although the city has long wanted to use the downtown riverfronts, officials said they are not pushing for any specific type of development and will approach the study's findings without preconceptions.
“I think what's key is we go into this with an open mind,” said Pam Holocher, director of planning for the city.