Downtown riverfront development gets more for the money

St. Mary's River
FILE: A view of the St. Mary's River near downtown Fort Wayne.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A jump-start for riverfront development in downtown Fort Wayne came Thursday in the form of $225,000 from the Foellinger Foundation.  “We announced Tuesday that we have matching money available from the Lilly Endowment,” David Bennett, Director of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, a group that is fundraising for riverfront projects.  “So, that $225,000 will be matched 50 cents on the dollar by Lilly. We’ll have a significant amount of money to get things rolling.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne has just over 1 year to raise $2 million in order to qualify for matching dollars from Lilly. Foellinger is the first to step up and commit to helping the Community Foundation make their fundraising goal.  “To not come behind that (Tuesday’s Lilly commitment) with something big that says we’re in and we’re in early, would have been a missed opportunity,” Bob Taylor, head of the board for Foellinger Foundation.

Where will the remaining $1,775,000 come from? Fort Wayne, of course.  “We think it’s going to come from businesses, foundations and individuals,” Bennett said.

The money raised by Community Foundation will not be earmarked for specific riverfront projects. They’ll leave picking the projects to the city of Fort Wayne.

“I hope others look at what the Community Foundation has done and what Foellinger has done and say – we want to jump on board too!”  said Taylor.

“People are as excited about riverfront development as I’ve seen them in a long, long time about anything in Fort Wayne,” Bennett said.  Anyone who wants to see downtown riverfront development happen, has until March 31, 2016 to donate if they want their dollars to go that much farther.

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