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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Renovating the interior, the exterior and the parking lot of the Clyde Theater on Bluffton Road are par tof Rick Kinney's vision for the future of what he says will be a national concert venue and multi-purpose building.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 10:01 pm

Theater booster

Critics of Fort Wayne’s downtown renaissance are becoming harder to find, but residents who object to further investment there often insist it comes at the expense of neighborhoods. Those critics should be thrilled with the proposal to revitalize the Clyde Theatre. In creating an arts and entertainment venue at the site of a long-shuttered movie theater, the project promises to revive the struggling Quimby Village commercial district and bolster development of the city’s important Broadway corridor.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission gave the proposal a boost this week by endorsing a loan from Fort Wayne’s Legacy Fund, money generated by the lease and sale of the city’s electric utility to Indiana & Michigan Power. Approval of the loan request by the Legacy Joint Funding Committee is the next step, followed by approval by City Council. The redevelopment commission has authorized the use of funds from the Quimby Village tax increment financing district to repay the loan to the Legacy Fund.

Neighborhood proponents recognize the strength of the proposal.

"We fully support investment of a Legacy Funds loan to this effort, which is likely to be more than repaid through increases in property taxes in Quimby Village and property values of the 12 strong nearby neighborhood associations while simultaneously boosting local economic activity in entertainment, retail, recreation and restaurants," writes John T. Moore, chairman of the Southwest Area Partnership, in a letter to council members.

Moore, writing on behalf of the boards of the area partnership and the Winterset neighborhood, notes the theater’s location, at the intersection of Bluffton Road and Broadway, is positioned to influence economic activity from Foster Park to Waynedale.

It is positioned to spur activity to the north, as well. Quimby Village anchors the southern end of the Broadway corridor, an increasingly attractive area for development. The Broadway Stroll, a July event, showcased the corridor’s offerings, including art galleries, boutiques, a new craft brewery and more. The north end of the corridor includes a bigger and much anticipated development target – the General Electric campus. GE put the 32-acre property on the market earlier this year. Out-of-town developers have toured the property, and officials from Greater Fort Wayne Inc. have confirmed there is redevelopment interest.

The Clyde Theatre might be2 miles from downtown, but its revitalization is an example of the domino effect that good development can create

There’s the potential to see the energy from Parkview Field extend southward, linking with the revitalization of Quimby Village to benefit the neighborhoods Moore notes in his letter, as well as areas in between.

City Council members, who approved a resolution to freeze Legacy spending until they see a funding proposal for the first phase of riverfront development, wisely included language to allow loan requests on a case-by-case basis. The theater project – also a part of the Road toOne Million Regional Cities plan – looks like a worthy prospect for a Legacy Fund loan. It’s a neighborhood investment and much more.