Michael McKay,Â Â with Morrison Kattman Menze Inc., has responded to Jack Swinehart’s letter to the editor, which they titled “Don’t build homes near festival site“. Â His article, which the JG titled, “Residences will add to vibrant downtown” was published in yesterday’s paper.
Residences will add to vibrant downtown
As the architect and member of the development team of the Superior Street Row project, I feel compelled to respond to the fears presented in W.J. Rhinehart’s letter, “Don’t build homes near festival site” (Dec. 28)
The letter represents a prevalent misunderstanding of urban development and redevelopment, one that attempts to apply suburban attitudes and controls to an urban context while ignoring the reasons why people choose to live downtown.
First, the land for this proposed project is already zoned to allow mixed-use development, which is highly desirable and needed for a thriving downtown. A project of this nature is not “housing” but rather commercial and retail space at street level with residential space on the upper floors. Rezoning of this site is not necessary or needed, and our proposed project complies with the master plan for downtown, the design guidelines for downtown and the comprehensive plan for the city of Fort Wayne and Allen County.
Next, our proposed project is a complement, not a threat, to Headwaters Park and the festivals, concerts and other events held here. We see Headwaters Park as an asset, not a liability, and the residential component of our project are urban lofts, designed specifically for people who chose to live in the city center, an environment filled with noise, activities and events 24/7. It is the very reason people will choose to live there, and those concerned about the noise need not apply.
With all due respect to Headwaters Park, the park by itself does not provide the diversity and quality life of that Rhinehart speaks of. In its current state, this park is used more by visitors to downtown rather than residents of downtown. As an urban park, Headwaters Park needs more people living around its boundaries (look at all of the successful urban parks in successful downtowns around this country), providing more use and the diversity that was mentioned.
If Fort Wayne is to ever have the chance of re-establishing a thriving, exciting and vibrant downtown, then we need more of these projects, not less, providing more and different types of space for more residents to not only work and play downtown, but live there as well – which is what we did in generations past.