News release from Headwaters Junction:
Conceptual idea for North River Development unveiled
(January 28, 2011) – A director for the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc. has formally unveiled aÂ conceptual development plan for 30 acres of undeveloped land in Fort Wayne known asÂ North River.
Headwaters Junction, an exploratory initiative of the FWRHS being pursued byÂ Headwaters Junction, LLC and director Kelly Lynch, proposes a gateway project that willÂ catalyze urban revitalization in Fort Wayne.
For over a year Lynch has been conducting research and perspective gathering for the plan, marketing it to members of the civic, political, and business community, as well asÂ various neighborhood associations and citizens. Encouraged by a wave of positiveÂ response, the conceptual plan is now available for review by the public at large atÂ.
Taking cues from the city-lead North River Now, the conceptual plan aims to fulfillÂ objectives of BluePrint Plus which recommend that the North Core be “transformed intoÂ a vibrant and vital regional attraction, create a walkable and urban mixed use areaÂ integrated with surrounding neighborhoods, strengthen the image of Fort Wayne as aÂ family destination, and make the river central to downtown and the region.”
Headwaters Junction will revitalize North River and downtown as a versatile attractionÂ and mixed use anchor, creating a public space for recreational, social, artistic, andÂ commercial activities. North River will be complimented by walkable pedestrian areas,Â green space and trailhead, water features, riverfront access, street scape for shops andÂ retail, and an operating tourist railroad that embraces Fort Wayne’s cultural andÂ historical significance, connects area points of interest and nearby neighborhoods, andÂ enables citizens and tourists alike a unique and colorful way to experience the city.
In addition, Headwaters Junction has been conceived to operate a short line freightÂ railroad to help serve existing area businesses and encourage new business investmentÂ as well as promote enrichment and talent building through unique education outreachÂ programs.
“Cultural tourism in Indiana is a $4.9 billion dollar industry, with $415 million in directÂ expenditures being spent each year in Fort Â Wayne. Much of the state’s tourism occursÂ near Indianapolis and Chicago, this signals an opportunity for growth in NortheastÂ Indiana,” says Lynch, a director with the railroad historical society and HeadwatersÂ Junction’s project manager. “Many cities across the country are looking at their ownÂ histories to create exciting and diverse attractions, some even adapting old rail yards asÂ new urban cores. North River use to be one of the city’s ubiquitous rail yards and offers aÂ dramatic stage on which to elevate Fort Wayne.”
A major component to Headwaters Junction is an existing national tourist attractionÂ known as steam locomotive no. 765 – a 1944 built goodwill ambassador restored by theÂ FWRHS in 1979 after removing it for preservation from Lawton Park in 1974. DonatedÂ by the Nickel Plate Road in 1963 as a monument to the railroad elevation throughÂ downtown, the 765 is one of five mainline steam locomotives operating in the country,Â the largest operating east of the Mississippi, and experienced over 50,000 visitors andÂ passengers in its sixteen days of operation in 2009.
Stored at the FWRHS’ restoration facility in New Haven when not operating passengerÂ excursions, the 765 is an uncommon cultural asset and tourist attraction whoseÂ operations typically take it out of Fort Wayne to other locations throughout the midwest.Â In 2011, the 765 will be operating trains out of Chicago, Union Station and Rock Island,Â Illinois. The 765 and a roster of other historic operating railroad equipment unique toÂ the city and region will call Headwaters Junction home.
Headwaters Junction is offered at a time when the region is looking for ways to establishÂ a meaningful identity, improve quality of life, and inspire new economic developmentÂ and as the city contemplates how to develop North River. Votes for the concept as aÂ potential use for a portion of the I&M Light Lease money has garnered over 900 votesÂ and as of this writing has earned 1st place on. Funding for aÂ development of this type enables a multitude of underwriting channels, including private
and public partnerships, grant money for historic and transportation related projects,Â and corporate sponsorship.
The public is invited to offer their feedback at. WorkshopsÂ will be conducted at area neighborhood associations in the coming months.
This press release may contain predictive statements intended as “forward-looking,”Â subject to uncertainties. Such predictive statements are not guarantees of futureÂ developments, and actual results could differ materially from those stated.