FORT WAYNE – In the end, it will be the people’s building.
Mayor Tom Henry on Monday announced he will name the new city and county government building Citizens Square.
Henry said the building will serve as a one-stop shop for residents wanting to do business with their local governments. Many shopping centers use square in their names, Henry said, and many people wanted the name to reflect the entire community. The building also encompasses an entire city block.
This building will be the seat of government for both the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County, he said. We want it to reflect the spirit of our community and its important civic purpose.
The announcement formally ends the worldwide push to name the building after one of the city’s longest-tenured and humorously named mayors. After opening an online forum for residents to submit and support names for the building at 200 E. Berry St., the Harry Baals Government Center took a quick and commanding lead.
The forum generated international attention, including quips from comics Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart. Baals finished with 23,867 votes in the city’s online poll. The Citizen’s Square, the closest of many variations of the winning name, received 5 votes in the poll.
That’s the beauty of the Internet, Henry said in regards to the attention the city received from the naming process.
The chosen name does not include an apostrophe, which is common for proper names, said Frank Suarez, city spokesman.
Henry acknowledged the attention brought the city through the naming process, but noted Baals did not make the first cut of his selection process with more than 100 community leaders. He said he had not yet considered whether to honor Mayor Baals in part of the new building.
The building simply couldn’t be named after one person because so many people have contributed to the community, Henry said.
The existing City-County Building, which is owned by Allen County, will be renamed in honor of the late County Commissioner Ed Rousseau. Henry noted he had no problem with the county’s decision, but stressed his decision represents a combination of many suggestions.
Some city departments will begin to move to Citizens Square next month, while Henry said his office likely won’t relocate until May.
Once the departments vacate the City-County Building, the county will remodel the building to become the new home for city and county police. That building is to be finished by the end of the year.