City to buy North River property for future development

Private development opportunities are anticipated

The North River property, bounded by Clinton, Fourth and Harrison streets near downtown Fort Wayne, will be purchased by the city of Fort Wayne for future development. (Google Maps)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city of Fort Wayne will buy the North River property with the intent to shop it for future private development.

“Lot’s of people are interested in it. It’s downtown, it’s on the riverfront,” Community Development Director Greg Leatherman said.

The city announced early Thursday that it had entered into a purchase agreement with Calhoun Investments, LLC to buy the 29-acre property bounded by Clinton, Fourth and Harrison streets. The site was a former rail yard and scrap yard, but has sat vacant and empty since 2006.

Details of the purchase were not released.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said the property, which the city called “an important gateway into downtown,” will be a private development opportunity.

“This is a tremendous next step in our ongoing efforts to ensure Fort Wayne is a point of destination for economic development opportunities, job growth and quality of life amenities that businesses and residents desire,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “We’re looking forward to what opportunities will be possible for private development as a result of the City having control of the North River property.”

The purchase agreement calls for the city to buy the property in its current condition. The city will assume responsibility for any future environmental remediation, if it’s required.

The future use of the property will determine the necessary site preparation or remediation, the city said.

“The city of Fort Wayne downtown has experienced a lot of investment and we expect a lot of interest in it, as has been expressed by some other entities,” Leatherman added.

Those entities include Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. Steam Park at that location was a part of the group’s 10 year vision.

Lutheran Health also confirmed to NewsChannel 15 the network’s interest in the land for a replacement of St. Joseph Hospital.

City leaders stressed that no deals have been made.

“We’not pre-judging at all what will go there at this point, the most important thing is to control the use, and that is what this process we are about to engage in is all about,” Leatherman explained.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission will consider becoming the title holder of the North River property on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, City Council will consider an ordinance to assume responsibility for any future environmental remediation, if required, at the property.

After that, the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board will consider a $4.63 million funding commitment to the City of Fort Wayne Redevelopment Authority to purchase the property. The city said the CIB funding would be interest-free and repaid as future development warrants, without a deadline for repayment.

City Council will take a final vote on the ordinance on Nov. 28, and the city and Calhoun Investments, LLC will close on the property Dec. 1.

Many questions have been raised about the cleanliness of the land. City inspectors had access to the land for the first time in 2007.

“We’ve done over 90 samples, tested ground water and done everything with proper due diligence would require to know what is there and to know what issues are presented if you develop it for something else,” Leatherman added.

The results of the testing are confidential until the sale is approved.