The Fort Wayne City Council unanimously approved a measure Tuesday expanding an economic target area near U.S. 27 and Hanna Street, a move officials say could help a potential development project move forward.
The expanded area will incorporate five residential lots in the 7100 and 7200 blocks of Hanna Street and the north and west right-of-ways bounding those properties. The reason for expanding the area is to help development of an assisted-living facility move forward, Greg Leatherman, the city's community development director, told the council.
“This is about creating the expanded economic development target area that would make this project eligible, should they decide to do so, to apply for tax abatement on the project,” Leatherman said. “So at this point the request doesn't have anything necessarily to do with the project, although there is a project behind this request.”
Leatherman said the planned development would consist of 119 units, some of which would be for low-income residents. Specific details of the project haven't been disclosed, Leatherman said, noting the council would receive a clearer picture should the development apply for a tax abatement.
Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, praised the move as a sensible step forward to facilitating much-needed development in south Fort Wayne.
“The idea of having a major investment on the southeast side of Fort Wayne is obviously something all of us want,” Jehl said. “Although we'll certainly want to make sure we're careful with the taxpayers' dollars when there is a full ask, in the meantime this is a very good common-sense step to make sure that this particular area that we want the investment to take place is as attractive as possible.”
In other business, the City Council unanimously approved $220,000 to extend a program between Fort Wayne Public Works and the Fort Wayne Urban League for sidewalk repair around the community.
As part of the program, the city's street department removes sections of sidewalk deemed a trip hazard. After the old concrete is removed, a crew of four from the Urban League does the restoration, said Kira Blacketor, deputy director of Public Works. Under the program, which began in April, 5,000 feet of sidewalks have been repaired.
“Not only are we able to fix the sidewalks for a reasonable price, but we are also providing on-the-job training,” Blacketor said. “As you may know, getting contractors to bid on this type of work can be a little bit cumbersome because a lot of the time they'll bid on bigger jobs.”
The program presents an opportunity to train new people to be able to provide services in the future while also taking care of current issues.
The additional funding will allow the program to continue through October, Blacketor said.