City officials unveiled the first drawings of what they said will be a world-class river development Wednesday afternoon, saying Fort Wayne wouldn’t go second class because it doesn’t cost much more to go first class.
The development on the banks of the St. Marys River between Harrison Street and the Wells Street Bridge will include terraced land leading to the south side of the river. It will include shade structures, a promenade, a pavilion on the south side and educational features. On the north side will be a concrete dock. People will be able to watch events on the river or just pass the time next to the river.
Mayor Tom Henry said it’s hard to put a time frame on the project and pinpoint costs. However, the goal is to have property acquisition and demolition underway by next summer and to have the entire project completed by late summer 2018.
Al Moll of the Parks and Recreation Department estimated the entire project would cost $20 million, not including land acquisition and design. Money for the project would come from the state Regional Cities grant, the city’s Legacy Fund, private donations, and previous allocations from the Legacy fund.
The city owns all the land for the project on the north side of the river. Owners of about 2 acres on the south side of the river turned down offers for their property. The city is now trying to acquire the land through eminent domain proceedings, which could take at least until the end of the year.
An information session for the public will be held at 5:30 p.m. July 7 at Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St. That will include a 3-D presentation.
The plan is to make it possible for people to walk from downtown to the developed area where they can watch events, eat lunch or just pass the time.
"We’re in for a grand time the next couple of years," Henry said.