Text: 2018 State of the City address

City of Fort Wayne

Text of Mayor Tom Henry’s 11th State of the City address, delivered February 14, 2019, at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in downtown Fort Wayne.

Thank you, Mike, for that warm introduction.

The community and I appreciate your leadership overseeing the Fort Wayne Tincaps and Parkview Field, the number one ballpark experience in the country.

All of us in Fort Wayne admire and respect your professionalism and your positive approach in promoting our city.

Friends, family, elected officials, honored guests, residents of Fort Wayne, welcome.

As I look out at all of you, I see your enthusiasm, excitement and anticipation because of what Fort Wayne is now and what we can become in the future.

Now, with this being Valentine’s Day, it seems to me to be a perfect time to share with you my love, passion and commitment for Fort Wayne.

My friends, there’s no doubt Fort Wayne is on the rise. We’re truly experiencing momentum and investments like never before, establishing ourselves as a destination city.

I see it each day as I visit with business leaders, residents and students.

We’ve become a city that believes in itself; one that constantly works to keep rising to its full potential.

Now, all of us know that all successful cities must have a downtown that’s at the heart of its momentum, helping make everything move in the right direction.

And, in 2018, you’re going to see downtown Fort Wayne continue to rise, literally, with several projects breaking ground and a number of other initiatives reaching completion.

One of my favorite projects is The Landing being led by the Model Group, a nationally-recognized developer.

Housing, retail, office space, and restaurants will bring life to an area that’s been patiently waiting to see a renewal of energy and excitement.

It’s great that this particular investment is starting now and will redevelop this important, historic block.

Nearby, the 10-million dollar Superior Lofts project is going to wrap up construction this year, too.

The final stages of revitalizing this former vacant property with 72 apartments and commercial space will bring even more people to downtown.

And, next to The Landing and Superior Lofts will be Continental Property Group’s 61-million dollar mixed-use development.

It will be the very first private development along the riverfront.

Work on this initiative will start this year and feature apartments, retail space, offices, and a parking garage with more than one-thousand spaces.

And, hundreds of those spaces will be available for public use when visiting downtown.

Representatives from Continental Property Group have joined us today.

Will you please stand as we give you a warm welcome.

Fort Wayne is honored to have you as part of our community.

I would bet that part of Continental’s investment decision was as a direct result of phase one of our riverfront development efforts – Promenade Park.

This newest park space will open in 2019 and serve as a tremendous community gathering place.

Led by Al Moll and our Parks Department, we’re setting the stage for more and more development.

In fact, we’ve issued a request for qualifications to get started on phases two and three of our riverfront initiative.

Over near the library, the skyline tower will also finish this year.

Apartments, retail, office space, and a Ruth’s Chris Steak House are part of the 40-million dollar project.

It’s an excellent addition to the over 100-million dollar Ash Skyline Plaza complex.

And, right across from Parkview Field, construction is wrapping up on Cityscape Flats.

The apartments there are currently open, and the townhomes will be finished soon.

Now, let me ask you, how many cities do you know are going to have two new hotels being built blocks from each other at the same time?
Well, first in Fort Wayne, we’ll be introduced to a spectacular boutique hotel led by Provenance Hotels and Fort Wayne’s own Barbara Baekgaard.

This unique development at the corner of Main and Harrison is designed specifically for Fort Wayne and will start construction this spring.

It will have 125 rooms, restaurants, retail, and a rooftop entertainment space.

It doesn’t stop there, though, as white lodging will also start construction on a 136-room Hampton Inn and Suites next to Parkview Field.

There is no question this hotel will help meet the demand of our growing convention and tourism industry.

Representatives of both hotel developments are with us today.

Will you please stand to be recognized.

We appreciate your collective commitment to investing in Fort Wayne.

All of these projects are part of the bigger picture we’re painting in Fort Wayne.

And, I need to let you know a lot of this work has been done with help from the Allen County Commissioners.

I want to personally thank Commissioners Bloom, Brown and Peters for being good partners as we collaborate to make our community a better place.

Our initiatives are bringing about a new sense of pride and an even greater willingness to embrace current residents and welcome new people to our city.

As a result, hospitality continues to be a critical business sector in Fort Wayne.

For instance, the Grand Wayne Center hosted 47 conventions last year and eight of them were brand new.

And, these events brought in guests from across the United States and the world.

Through their efforts and our partners at visit Fort Wayne, we welcomed nearly six million visitors to the community.

Tourists spent more than 600-million dollars to help boost our local economy.

And, over 11-thousand jobs are supported by tourism.

There’s no question visitors enhance our quality of life, raise our profile and sustain our job market.

You know, Allen County now ranks 4th out of 92 Indiana counties in tourism spending.

We also know people coming to Fort Wayne want to experience excellent dining opportunities, and we’re fortunate to have so many options.

Today, I would like to highlight two of them.

Farm to fork dining at the Tolon is helping put Fort Wayne on the map with fine dining.

Their unique approach and seasonal menu offerings make any trip there truly memorable.

Matthew and Nicky Nolot are with us today.

Would you please stand to be recognized.

Thank you for making the Tolon an important part of our downtown revitalization.

I’m also impressed with the wo