The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 05, 2016 11:01 pm

Can't spell future without 'you'

Tom Henry

It’s a common refrain I hear from Fort Wayne residents: Our city is moving forward and good things are happening. Downtown has a new yet sustained energy, any time of day and any time of year. But the excitement isn’t limited to the central business district. The positive news extends to our neighborhoods as well.

Downtown, Fort Wayne’s skyline is changing for the better once again with construction on the $40 million, 12-story Skyline Tower project at Wayne and Webster streets.

The mixed-use development consists of 124 apartments as well as retail and office space totaling 170,000 square feet. Retail, featuring a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, will be on the first floor, while office space will occupy the second floor, and floors 3-12 will accommodate apartments.

Skyline Tower is the final piece of an overall downtown development initiative of nearly $110 million composed of Ash Skyline Plaza, home to the national corporate headquarters of Ash Brokerage, along with retail, office and commercial space, and the Skyline Garage.

The Redevelopment Commission and the city’s New Markets Revitalization Fund were critical partners in providing Great Lakes Capital with necessary financing tools to make Skyline Tower a reality.

Ash Skyline Plaza, Skyline Tower and Skyline Garage are just a few examples of the progress and momentum we continue to see in the city. Riverfront development, The Landing and the possibility of a downtown event center position Fort Wayne as a point of destination for individuals, families and businesses. By working together, we’re attracting and retaining talent as a community and region, moving in the right direction. Fort Wayne and all of northeast Indiana is recognized as a desirable location for economic development opportunities.

A strong and vibrant downtown can’t come at the expense of our tremendous neighborhoods. After almost 30 years in public service, I know firsthand how neighborhoods are the backbone of any successful city. So, infrastructure investments are happening in every quadrant. New streets, roads, sidewalks and curbs are improving perceptions and increasing neighborhood pride and property values. Fort Wayne has been one of the hottest real estate markets in the country this year.

Growing and thriving cities need to have downtowns and neighborhoods that work together to bring out the best in one another. As an example, the recently passed city budget for 2017 focuses on the things the public asked us to do. We’ll be adding 28 police officers and continuing our record investments in neighborhood infrastructure improvements to enhance quality-of-life amenities. This is how cities remain sustainable and viable now and in the future.

We must continue to push forward. Stopping isn’t an option. I know we’ll continue to see private investment in the heart of our city and in our neighborhoods, but only if city government does its part by providing services. More housing and retail options, corporate headquarters, and new businesses should be expected and welcomed. To be the best, we have to be willing to invest in ourselves and demonstrate what our community has to offer.

It takes teamwork to move communities forward, and I encourage you to get involved in a worthwhile initiative. Maybe it’s volunteering with a social service agency or taking a leadership role in your neighborhood association. Perhaps the time is right to start your own business or donate your talents to an arts organization. Opportunities are everywhere, but Fort Wayne has only improved when people got involved to make a difference.

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