FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) More than 90 people showed up to a public meeting at Citizens Square Thursday to talk about the future of the GE campus near downtown Fort Wayne.
It wasn’t the kind of meeting where everyone stand up and said what they wanted the massive area to be, it was more about how does the public want to see it happen. Working in seven small groups of about 10 people they considered five different approaches to development:
- Just maintain the dozen buildings on the 32-acre campus
- Do small, low-cost projects that don’t limit future use
- Do a major project, but leave most of the property open for future development
- Go all in with one major project for the entire campus
- Demolish all the buildings, leaving a site ready for future development
Most agreed on the third option, deciding a big project would keep the momentum of developing downtown and get developers excited about the idea of developing the campus. Most groups also like the idea of one developer coming in and doing one major project for the 2,000,000 square foot campus, but they were doubtful that would ever happen.
“I think we need to focus on the impact on the community both in health and for jobs, because we need housing down there but we also need places to work,” Stephanie Henry, who used to live near the campus, said.
The groups also hit on what’s important to them. The big winners of the night were preserving the history of the campus and taking a closer look at the environmental impact of the building. They also shared what they’d like to see develop there.
“My personal idea was an aquarium,” GE Campus Coalition’s Rebecca Gregory said. “I think that Fort Wayne is ready for a moderate sized aquarium.”
Others were pretty open to anything.
“The possibilities are endless,” Scott Greider said. “Obviously housing, obviously retail perhaps some industrial manufacturing.”
Others were leaning more toward a “green” project.
“I would like to see green space I’d like to see a garden. I’d like to see like a grocery, some sort of Farmer’s Market, a permanent year-round Farmer’s Market,” Henry said.
There’s no set deadline for the project. It could take decades, and it’s definitely going to take a lot of work.
“This is a huge endeavor. Well worth it, but it’s going to take a lot will from the city on down,” Greider said.
There are two more public meetings:
Saturday, February 13 , 10 a.m. – Noon at the Summit, 1025 West Rudisill Boulevard
Thursday, February 18, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Citizens Square, 200 East Berry Street
Once all the public meetings wrap up the results will be sent to Greater Fort Wayne Inc., according to Gregory. She said the recommendations will then be sent to GE.