FORT WAYNE, INDIANA – Non-profit organization and potential riverfront developer Headwaters Junction, Inc. has finalized a purchase agreement with railroad company Norfolk Southern Corp for one mile of historic railroad right-of-way along Fort Wayne’s growing riverfront district. Unoccupied since 2006, plans call for the right-of-way to be utilized for the proposed attraction’s tourist train operations and connect the riverfront to other area attractions. The line was originally built in the 1860’s.
“This purchase agreement means that Headwaters Junction will become one of the first private investments in Riverfront Fort Wayne and that we will own around ten acres of riverfront property,” explained Kelly Lynch, Executive Director. “This project is designed to be one of the riverfront’s main attractions and acquiring the right-of-way is a key step in this direction.”
Headwaters Junction is a multi-faceted rail-yard park with annual programming, events and operations housed within an immersive mixed-use facility inspired by the city’s industrial and railroad origins. In addition, Steel Dynamics has agreed to donate the needed rail to connect the neighborhood back to the general railroad system and other area points-of-interest. The current purchase agreement covers segments of right-of-way from Polk Street to 3rd Street with additional existing railroad right-of-way to be acquired in the future. Tourist trains that would operate over the railroad include world-famous steam locomotive no. 765 and a host of other roving cultural attractions like a restored or recreated streetcar.
Headwaters Junction was included in SWA Group’s 2015 Riverfront Conceptual Plan and part of a proposal for North River last year. Headwaters Junction is currently in discussions with the City of Fort Wayne and the David Rubin Land Collective on how the project can compliment future neighborhood and riverfront plans.
“While there is not yet an agreement to develop North River, we maintain that we have the best and most impactful project for roughly ten acres of the property, which keeps the vast majority of it open for private development which will no doubt benefit from our presence. As our studies have shown, this project would activate the riverfront year-round and bring life and vibrancy to the neighborhood,” said Lynch.
Headwaters Junction was recently resoundingly endorsed by the Northwest Area Partnership and has raised close to 2 million dollars in initial seed funding and grants.