Mayor champions Front Door Economics with new citywide gateway strategy

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News release from the City of Fort Wayne:

Mayor champions Front Door Economics with new citywide gateway strategy
Plan Challenges Businesses, Community to Partner in Beautifying Entry Points

Focusing on the crucial importance of first impressions to a community’s economic success, Mayor Tom Henry today rolled out the City of Fort Wayne’s new 10-year strategy to transform Fort Wayne’s primary entry points. Front Door Fort Wayne: A Plan to Enhance Our City’s Gateways is a comprehensive approach for improving the appearance and function of the entrances and major corridors into the city and downtown.

Mayor Henry also issued a Front Door Fort Wayne Challenge to the business community and other local funders to partner with the City in realizing elements of the plan. The inclusive nature of the proposal presents numerous opportunities for public-private collaborations.

“A community built for success understands the power of the first impression,” observed Mayor Henry. “By investing in our gateways, we make our city more welcoming and attractive to businesses, visitors and residents, alike. The pride we show in our front doors tells the world we’re ready to compete. Front Door Fort Wayne gives us a blueprint for putting our best foot forward. I challenge area businesses and other community funders to join me in bringing these gateways to life.”

The Front Door Fort Wayne process began in 2010, and was guided by a 14-member citizen advisory committee appointed by Mayor Henry. The group sought extensive community input, identified key entry points and ways to enhance them, and prioritized project ideas and policies.

The plan developed by the committee examines all major access routes and provides a cohesive approach for the creation of a consistent image. The new strategy puts a priority on celebrating Fort Wayne’s heritage and culture. It includes recommendations for beautifying corridors by incorporating existing and new landmarks, public art, lighting, signs, bike paths, sidewalks, landscaping and public transportation facilities.

Improved directional signage, methods to make roadway designs more accommodating to all users and ways to work with both the private sector and governmental entities to design, construct and maintain any gateway improvements are also plan highlights.

A central element of the proposal is the “wayfinding program,” a unified system of signs, pathways and landmarks along major city thoroughfares to help visitors and residents navigate the community with ease. It will complement the signage already in use downtown.

Key transportation corridors that will be addressed are Ardmore Avenue, Airport Expressway, Coliseum Boulevard, Coldwater Road and North Clinton Street, Lima Road and Dupont Road, Jefferson Boulevard, Maysville Road/Stellhorn Road/Crescent Avenue, US 27 (Lafayette and South Clinton streets) and Washington Boulevard.

“Just as we’ve streamlined our permitting process and made Citizens Square our one-stop shop for economic growth, Front Door Fort Wayne is another vital piece in our efforts to ensure our community is great place to live, a great place to visit and a great place to start and grow a business,” added Mayor Henry. “In every possible way, we’re putting the welcome mat out. And with this unique big-picture plan, we can address all our gateways.”

Because Fort Wayne’s front doors are vital to its economic future, Mayor Henry is dedicating $420,000 to this initiative from the nearly $8.5 million in taxes withheld in error by the State of Indiana and recently returned to the City. Part of these dollars will be applied to the wayfinding program, with a portion used as match dollars towards the challenge, encouraging private-sector participation in this initiative. To learn more about these partnering opportunities, contact Pam Holocher at 427-1127.

The Front Door Fort Wayne Advisory Committee was co-chaired by Cheri Becker, Leadership Fort Wayne; and Karl Bandemer, Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance. Other committee members were Dan O’Connell, Visit Fort Wayne; Jonathan Ray, Urban League; Irene Walters, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne; John Shoaff, Fort Wayne City Council; Karen Goldner, former City Council member; Nick Hobbie, Lutheran Health Network; Rick Poinsatte, Steel Dynamics Inc.; Kevin McCrory, LandPlan Group; Nelson Peters, Allen County Commissioners; John Morrison, downtown bank employee; Matt Kelley, One Lucky Guitar and Downtown Improvement District Board; and Debra Williams, Parkview Health.

In May, Front Door Fort Wayne was reviewed by the Fort Wayne Plan Commission and forwarded to City Council with a due pass recommendation. City Council will discuss the plan’s goals and objectives on June 19. If adopted, it would become part of Plan-it Allen! – The Allen County-Fort Wayne comprehensive land use and development plan.

Front Door Fort Wayne is anticipated to take up to ten years to implement fully. For a complete copy of the plan, visit







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