City settles with riverfront businesses, development on schedule

Riverfront Fort Wayne
Riverfront Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners has reached a settlement agreement with two business owners that will allow for planned Riverfront Development to proceed.

Red Bird Properties and Cambray and Associated reached agreements on core settlements for property acquisitions and relocation expenses for the final three riverfront properties, according to a statement from the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.

The settlement amounts included review and consideration of the rising values of downtown development projects.

Red Bird Properties will be paid $1.3 million and Cambray and Associates will be paid $850,000.

The city had attempted to acquire the properties through eminent domain.

All parties will known enter into purchase agreements, and once signed, a closing date for transfer of the properties will be scheduled. The Park Board will not take immediate possession after the transfer, but will instead allow enough time for Red Bird and Cambray and Associated to relocate their businesses.

“The settlements of these property acquisitions was vital as we approach next week’s request for Regional Cities funding,” said Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Director Al Moll in a prepared email statement. “It was important to keep the project moving forward for many reasons—for construction to stay on schedule, to be able to tell potential funders that we had possession of the properties, and to limit non-construction expenditures.”

The Park Board said the agreed upon possession date will allow Riverfront construction to proceed on schedule.

“Riverfront development is critical to the current and future success of Fort Wayne and the region as a point of destination,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry in a prepared email statement. “We’re looking forward to the next steps in the process as we work together to make a meaningful and lasting difference to encourage job and business growth and provide quality of place amenities to attract and retain residents.”

Dates about purchase agreements or possession transfers were not disclosed.

However, once all closings are finalized condemnation lawsuits will be dismissed.

Next week, managers of the Riverfront Development project are expected to present a funding request to the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority. The RDA is expected to get a request for $5.2 million in Regional Cities funding for phase one of the project.

The first phase is expected to focus on public spaces in a park setting along the Saint Mary’s River between the Wells Street Bridge and Harrison Street. Development will happen on both sides of the river and include a promenade, park pavilion, event lawn, entry plaza, urban bioswale, an educational water feature, urban streetscape, a central plaza, urban riverfront terraces, an elevated boardwalk, dock, interactive sculpture, and a children’s play area.