By late September, some downtown alleys will be more than empty outdoor hallways to downtown streets.
The Fort Wayne Community Development office has used an $83,000 grant from the Knight Foundation/Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne to hang string lighting, add signs, screen dumpsters and paint bump-outs and crosswalks in alleys leading to Berry, Harrison and Calhoun streets and Washington Boulevard.
Outdoor seating and planters will be installed in the alley next to 816 Pint & Slice on Calhoun Street, where a large fish mural was painted, and at other locations, according to Mary Tyndall, city public information officer.
“Improvements will be designed to encourage people to walk and explore the murals as well as take a seat and simply hang out,” Tyndall said in a news release.
Some of the improvements have already been installed and others are underway but will be ready in time for the Art This Way 2019 Art Crawl, scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 20.
“These improvements are all part of our work to create public spaces that are enjoyable and accessible for residents and visitors,” said Sherese Fortriede, the city's senior planner. “Even small improvements such as these contribute to the overall appeal of downtown.”
The internationally recognized architecture and urban design firm Gehl recommended the Alleyway Activation project. Gehl led the Public Space/Public Life project in Fort Wayne in 2018 to determine how to attract visitors, use downtown public spaces and make them more attractive, the release said.
The city partnered on the project with the Downtown Improvement District and the Fort Wayne New Markets Revitalization Fund.