City to spend $337K to beautify downtown entrance

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The scenery when driving into downtown is getting a face lift with the West Jefferson gateway enhancement project. It’s an improvement project that’s going to create a welcoming entrance in the downtown area.

On Monday, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved a $337,000 contract for cleaning and painting the railroad elevations and installing lighting in order to create a welcoming entrance into the downtown area.

Now approved, the bridges over West Jefferson at Catalpa Street and Lindenwood Avenue just north of West Jefferson will be cleaned and painted orange-red. Brush and debris will also be removed. In addition to cleaning the bridges, new lighting will be installed.

“Anything we are doing to improve our gateways or the first look that people have, is very positive for the economy here,” said John Urbahns of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.  The city’s economic development recruiting organization can not quantify a direct impact gateway improvements have on new business development.  Still, they say subtle changes made over the years, add up.  “People always think it’s about incentives, but we hear from companies when they come down and meet with us about how nice our downtown is, how attractive our community is. People are looking at that when they determine where they want to locate.”

Gateway projects started in 2012 when Mayor Tom Henry created the Front Door Fort Wayne Task Force: a 14 member advisory committee to make recommendations for the beautification of the corridors leading into the city.

“Front Door Fort Wayne is part of the city’s plan to improve the appearance, efficiency and economic potential of the city’s major gateways,” said Justin Brugger of the Redevelopment Commission.

The projects proposed are funded through Tax Increment Financing, which is a tool used by local governments to invest any new property tax revenue.

Work on the West Jefferson gateway is expected to begin in late Spring and will be finished by end of summer.

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