Headwaters Junction, [is] an educational and entertainment venue that would provide a link to local attractions like the Fort Wayne Childrenâ€™s Zoo, isnâ€™t new. It was first proposed the idea more than two years ago, before the historic Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad freight depot on Clinton Street was demolished, but hasnâ€™t been able to gather enough monetary support for the plan.
Whatâ€™s changed is the opportunity for funding through the Legacy Fund, money the city made on the lease and sale of its old electric utility City Power & Light.
About $47 million will be immediately available while an additional $28 million will trickle in over the next 12 years.
The proposal carries a price tag of about $20.5 million, based on estimates from other cities that have tackled similar endeavors. He said if completed in its entirety as itâ€™s proposed, Headwaters Junction would require funding from various sources, but the Legacy Fund provided the vehicle for the idea to take off.
A nod from the task force determining how the funds should be spent could provide a boost to the plan in convincing the mayor, his administration and the community that Headwaters Junction is a viable option for the north river property near the St. Marys River just north of downtown.
Headwaters Junction is mentioned in the Legacy Task Forceâ€™s riverfront development master plan and implementation, one of four spending categories for the fund. Nine projects were proposed and approved by City Council last month, including a feasibility study to examine riverfront development.
Task force members wrote that incorporating Headwaters Junction into a mixed-use development â€œshould not be overlooked. The consulting firm (performing a feasibility study) should give Headwaters Junction its due diligence when developing a vision for our riverfront and North River.â€
John Urbahns, community development director, said the team determined that the plan for Headwaters Junction provided a unique opportunity and should be given more consideration. The $500,000 riverfront study will investigate the best use for property around the cityâ€™s rivers, including the north river property.
At the heart of the plan is to return Berkshire steam locomotive No. 765 to downtown Fort Wayne where it had been on display as a monument to the 1955 Elevate the Nickel Plate project that opened a two-track overpass above city streets. Because of deterioration to the steam locomotive, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society removed the locomotive in 1974 and has since restored it.