Text: 2019 State of the City address

City of Fort Wayne

Text of Mayor Tom Henry’s 12th State of the City address, delivered February 13, 2019, at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in downtown Fort Wayne.

Thank you, Sheriff Gladieux, for that warm introduction.

I value and appreciate our friendship.Thank you as well for being an outstanding public servant and a trusted partner in our law enforcement efforts.

Family, friends, elected officials, special guests, residents of Fort Wayne, welcome.

The optimism and positive momentum we’re experiencing are clear indications of why Fort Wayne’s future is now.

Never before have I witnessed the confidence and excitement we’re currently experiencing in our city.

It’s definitely our time.

For example, in 2018 alone, we were named a top city to move to, the best place in Indiana to live, the lowest cost of living city for the third year in a row, the most affordable city for homeownership, and one of the country’s best-run cities.

Things are going well in Fort Wayne.

We’re on the right track, and the results are evident.

Just look at the riverfront. We’re nearing the completion of phase one.

In fact, I’m pleased to report that Promenade Park will open on June 21st.

This world-class attraction will have and certainly deserves a spectacular three-day grand opening.

You’re going to experience a floating band performance, three community art projects, a lighted boat parade, a butterfly release, and free boat rides.

Plan now to join us. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

We’re not going to stop there, though.

We’re passionate about making riverfront Fort Wayne the place all of you have told us you want it to be.

So, under the direction of our planning department and land collective, we’re working on phases two and three as we plan and design for more public spaces and improvements.

For instance, thanks to Bud Hall, we’ll be enjoying a new Hall’s restaurant as part of the riverfront district.

His move and restoration of the former Cambray Building honors history and looks toward the future.

Other large private investments are also coming together.

I’m confident that in 2019 we’re going to see at least one additional mixed-use development and a national headquarters take shape in downtown Fort Wayne.

And nearby, The Landing continues to be one of my favorite projects.

I hope you’ve seen the progress being made on this over 30-million dollar redevelopment.

This initiative will certainly complement riverfront development and will open later this year with several mixed-use offerings.

And, don’t forget about Superior Lofts, which is now open and sits along our riverfront with 72 apartments as an adaptive re-use of a 1905 building.

Another area with unlimited potential is at North River.

Having control of this riverfront property, as we do, will certainly position us for future private development.

North River is also an important part of the planning and design work with riverfront phases two and three to help us better gauge the best fit for next steps.

And, there’s even more development to look forward to.

Our future is now at electric works.

It’s one of the largest and most unique initiatives we’ve ever seen in Fort Wayne.

I continue to be encouraged by the progress we’re making.

My administration and all of our partners at City Council, Allen County Government, the Capital Improvement Board, Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, and the Board of Public Works had essential leadership roles in securing the necessary public funding for the project.

Several respected companies and organizations are already on board with letters of intent to utilize space on the campus.

As RTM ventures continues its work to finalize private financing and leasing commitments, the public and I look forward with optimism.

Yet another project that continues to shine is the renovated Clyde Theatre.

The popularity of the Clyde has been a tremendous driver of rebirth and excitement in the Quimby Village area.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge and thank the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and Redevelopment Department as they guide vital projects that will have a lasting impact.

Another one of our valued partners is Visit Fort Wayne as they help.

We welcome nearly six-and-a-half million guests annually.

That’s a 741-million dollar boost to our local economy and represents an annual growth rate of three-point-six percent.

And, more than 14-thousand jobs in our city are directly related to the visitor and hospitality industry.

The marketing efforts of Visit Fort Wayne and the collaboration among so many of you have made us a desirable location.

It’s no coincidence that more and more conventions want to be right here at the Grand Wayne Center.

Hotel occupancy rates are also at an all-time high.

Right across the street, you’ll notice the new Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton under construction.

The hotel will have 136 rooms, with more than 25 percent being oversized suites.

And, all guestrooms will offer direct views of Parkview Field or the downtown skyline.

It’s on schedule to open in July and will certainly be a great addition to our downtown.

And, at Main and Harrison Streets will be the Boutique Hotel led by Provenance Hotels and Barbara Baekgaard.

We plan to break ground in May on this unique project, which will help meet a need in our thriving city.

You know, we’re fortunate to live in a city that has great businessmen and women who care about one another and want what’s best for our community to grow and prosper.

We’re a city that’s committed to ensuring that businesses are successful today and recognize that their tomorrows start with fresh perspectives and positive attitudes.

Greg Leffler and Greg Leffler, Jr., are doing just that at First Gear.

It’s a successful small business of around 30 employees that’s had two recent expansions.

They specialize in gear manufacturing for aerospace, medical, defense, racing, food, and automotive industries.

The Leffler’s are with us today.

Would you please stand to be recognized.

Small businesses are critical to Fort Wayne.

Keep up the great work. Proactive business models can make all the difference.

They affect how a city operates, how residents feel about themselves, and how a community can come together to be