Conceptual idea for North River Development unveiled

Headwaters Junction logo.

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 a conceptual development plan for 30 acres of undeveloped land in Fort Wayne known as North River.

Headwaters Junction, an exploratory initiative of the FWRHS being pursued by Headwaters Junction, LLC and director Kelly Lynch, proposes a gateway project that will 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 as various neighborhood associations and citizens. Encouraged by a wave of positive response, the conceptual plan is now available for review by the public at large at

Taking cues from the city-lead North River Now, the conceptual plan aims to fulfill objectives of BluePrint Plus which recommend that the North Core be “transformed into a vibrant and vital regional attraction, create a walkable and urban mixed use area integrated with surrounding neighborhoods, strengthen the image of Fort Wayne as a family destination, and make the river central to downtown and the region.”

Headwaters Junction will revitalize North River and downtown as a versatile attraction and mixed use anchor, creating a public space for recreational, social, artistic, and commercial activities. North River will be complimented by walkable pedestrian areas, green space and trailhead, water features, riverfront access, street scape for shops and retail, and an operating tourist railroad that embraces Fort Wayne’s cultural and historical significance, connects area points of interest and nearby neighborhoods, and 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 freight railroad to help serve existing area businesses and encourage new business investment as well as promote enrichment and talent building through unique education outreach programs.

“Cultural tourism in Indiana is a $4.9 billion dollar industry, with $415 million in direct expenditures being spent each year in Fort  Wayne. Much of the state’s tourism occurs near Indianapolis and Chicago, this signals an opportunity for growth in Northeast Indiana,” says Lynch, a director with the railroad historical society and Headwaters Junction’s project manager. “Many cities across the country are looking at their own histories to create exciting and diverse attractions, some even adapting old rail yards as new urban cores. North River use to be one of the city’s ubiquitous rail yards and offers a dramatic stage on which to elevate Fort Wayne.”

A major component to Headwaters Junction is an existing national tourist attraction known as steam locomotive no. 765 – a 1944 built goodwill ambassador restored by the FWRHS in 1979 after removing it for preservation from Lawton Park in 1974. Donated by the Nickel Plate Road in 1963 as a monument to the railroad elevation through downtown, the 765 is one of five mainline steam locomotives operating in the country, the largest operating east of the Mississippi, and experienced over 50,000 visitors and passengers in its sixteen days of operation in 2009.

Stored at the FWRHS’ restoration facility in New Haven when not operating passenger excursions, the 765 is an uncommon cultural asset and tourist attraction whose operations typically take it out of Fort Wayne to other locations throughout the midwest. In 2011, the 765 will be operating trains out of Chicago, Union Station and Rock Island, Illinois. The 765 and a roster of other historic operating railroad equipment unique to the city and region will call Headwaters Junction home.

Headwaters Junction is offered at a time when the region is looking for ways to establish a meaningful identity, improve quality of life, and inspire new economic development and as the city contemplates how to develop North River. Votes for the concept as a potential use for a portion of the I&M Light Lease money has garnered over 900 votes and as of this writing has earned 1st place on Funding for a development of this type enables a multitude of underwriting channels, including private
and public partnerships, grant money for historic and transportation related projects, and corporate sponsorship.

The public is invited to offer their feedback at Workshops will be conducted at area neighborhood associations in the coming months.

This press release may contain predictive statements intended as “forward-looking,” subject to uncertainties. Such predictive statements are not guarantees of future developments, and actual results could differ materially from those stated.

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