Early Settlement - The St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee rivers have played strategic roles in the settlement, defense, transportation and commerce of Fort Wayne and have served as the heart of our community since the City’s establishment in 1829. As with many communities, Fort Wayne began to withdraw from the heart of its community throughout the 20th century, as residents sought to relocate within suburban developments. Riverfront Fort Wayne is an opportunity to respect the history and character of Fort Wayne by creating and maintaining space that will bring residents back to the rivers.
Legacy Fort Wayne - In 2011, Mayor Tom Henry established Legacy Fort Wayne as a way to guide the spending of an approximate $75 million made available to the City of Fort Wayne through the Light Lease Settlement and Fort Wayne Community Trust funds. The Mayor solicited hundreds of ideas from the community on how best to utilize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Of all the recommendations, the desire for riverfront development and the need for a comprehensive and thorough study rose to the top of the priority list.
Conceptual Plan and Community Input - Because of the public's overwhelming support for riverfront development, Mayor Henry made the revitalization of the riverfront area a priority and commissioned a comprehensive riverfront study. That study began in August 2013 and was led by renowned landscape architect firm SWA Group. Throughout the process, the City ensured that there were many ways for residents to join the discussion. Thousands of people completed surveys, attended events, heard presentations, shared their ideas and even joined in riverboat excursions and Dragon Boat races. In February 2015, a comprehensive conceptual plan was developed and shared with the community; in it, the hopes and dreams of area residents were brought to life and the vision for Riverfront Fort Wayne was set.
Putting the Plan into Action - In 2015, Fort Wayne City Council approved $6 million in Legacy funds for riverfront development work, including maintenance, development and events. Mayor Henry then formed a Riverfront Implementation Committee to guide the work and in November 2015 the City hired Riverworks Design Group, comprised of professionals from Design Collaborative, Forum Studio, Hoch Associates, Engineering Resources, American Structurepoint and One Lucky Guitar. Riverworks took the conceptual plan and developed schematic designs, which were unveiled in June 2016. Next steps include construction and engineering documents, which will lead to Phase I of Riverfront Fort Wayne becoming a reality.