Despite all of the challenges 2020 presented, the city of Fort Wayne remains strong and has much to look forward to, including a possible professional soccer stadium, Mayor Tom Henry said Wednesday.
It was an unusual scene at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne, as Henry stood at a podium to deliver his annual State of the City address. The room – typically filled with hundreds of residents, city employees and elected officials – was empty, except for a few city staff and media personnel. Although he touched on the previous year's hardships, Henry focused mainly on 2020 accomplishments and looking toward the future.
A major part of that future is a potential development on a piece of land near the Martin Luther King, Jr. bridge north of downtown, Henry said. Known as North River, the city purchased the land, which formerly housed an Omnisource recycling facility, in 2017.
A developer, who Henry did not identify, has signed a memorandum of understanding regarding development of the property and has expressed interest in an investment of $150 million. The proposal, he said, calls for a soccer stadium, fieldhouse, event center and hotel.
There would also be space for restaurants, residential housing, retail, office and public spaces, Henry said, adding there would also be a parking component.
It's likely any project would take several years to come to fruition, he added while speaking to reporters after his address.
"It's a memorandum of understanding, it's not a development agreement yet," Henry said. "So it's still in the embryonic stages of development, but they did bring that forward and we're very excited about the possibilities."
It's not clear whether there will be a public-private partnership between the developer and the city, but Henry said it's possible the city could be asked for assistance with the project's parking component.
"Normally, that's the case," he said.
Henry's address also highlighted 760 new Fort Wayne jobs created in 2020 and total private investment of $105 million.
Additionally, Henry said The Riverfront at Promenade Park, a mixed-use development by developer Barrett & Stokely, is expected to break ground this week, and The Bradley – a boutique hotel on Main Street – is scheduled to open in April.