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Legacy Committee Approves Funding For Riverfront, The Landing

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Fort Wayne’s Legacy Joint Funding Committee met Wednesday night, and approved funding for several long-term development projects.

The committee approved a $10 million request from the City of Fort Wayne to assist with the ongoing riverfront development project.

Earlier this month, Mayor Tom Henry asked the committee to consider providing the funding for the project. Costs for the first phase of the project stand at an estimated $20 million, and the additional $10 million is expected to be covered from private donors.

Henry said it was critical funding for the project to continue. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation director Al Moll proposed the measure before the committee.

“This is about a catalyst for investment for the future,” said Moll. “This was a step that we thought was the best approach, and something we felt we could accomplish with the resources available.”

Legacy committee member and Fort Wayne councilman Geoff Paddock says that he felt the proposal was ready for City Council discussion.

“Not all Legacy funding gets a strong vote of approval and some fail,” said Paddock. “But I think this is one that I sense will go forward and get the majority of votes, because we want to see this happen.”

The committee voted unanimously in favor of the $10 million funding. That funding now must be approved by the Fort Wayne City Council, which Henry projects to take place on November 22.

The committee also approved $2.5 million for redevelopment of The Landing.

The Model Group -- the developer tasked with transforming The Landing into a living and retail space -- made their pitch Wednesday night. Model Group CEO Steve Smith says the project would attract the “best and brightest talent” to Fort Wayne.

“Young people are going to live in cool, hip urban spaces,” said Smith. “So one of the things this does is, this creates another great space in Fort Wayne, right downtown.”

The Model Group was asking for the $2.5 million as a loan. Some members of the committee expressed concern over repayment of the loan if the project were to fail.

Smith says that wouldn’t be the biggest risk for the committee to worry about.

“The two-and-a-half million dollars in a subordinate position is a risk; I’m not going to sugarcoat that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s nearly as big a risk as not making the investment.”

Ultimately, the $2.5 million in funding passed 6-1; Paul Ensley was the only dissenting vote. The funding now must be approved by Fort Wayne City Council to take effect.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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