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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 10, 2017 1:00 am

Deal reached for city to buy North River

$4.63 million for OmniSource site

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The city of Fort Wayne has reached an agreement with the Rifkin family to purchase the North River property on Clinton Street across from Science Central for $4.63 million, pending approvals from the city's Redevelopment Commission and the City Council. 

“This is a tremendous next step in our ongoing efforts to ensure Fort Wayne is a point of destination for economic development opportunities, job growth and quality of life amenities that businesses and residents desire,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “We're looking forward to what opportunities will be possible for private development as a result of the city having control of the North River property.”

If the necessary approvals are granted, the city expects to close on the property by Dec. 1. The Redevelopment Commission will consider buying the property at its meeting Monday. An ordinance allowing the city to assume responsibility for environmental cleanup costs, if required, will be introduced Tuesday. Discussion on that proposal will happen Nov. 21 with final approval expected Nov. 28. 

Negotiations to buy the property began about a decade ago in fall 2007, Greg Leatherman, the city's director of Community Development, told The Journal Gazette on Thursday. Leatherman said any environmental issues stem from prior metal recycling operations. Most of that impact is in the top 6 inches to 1 foot of soil, Leatherman said. 

Although the city will accept responsibility for environmental remediation, there is the possibility that investment could be recaptured from a future development.

Ultimately, the type of development slated for the site will determine the level of preparation necessary. There are several parties interested in the site, including the Headwaters Junction railroad attraction and Lutheran Health Network as a potential site to replace St. Joseph Hospital. 

Funding to buy the land will be advanced by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board. That commitment would be interest-free and repaid as future development warrants, city officials said Thursday.

The Capital Improvement Board is expected to consider approval of the request at its meeting Thursday.