I recently announced that nine local organizations will receive 2017 Commercial Façade Grants to improve their properties. This year’s recipients are all located on well-traveled urban corridors that the City of Fort Wayne is working to revitalize.
The local organizations include Ziegler’s Window Coverings, Legacy Heating & Air Conditioning, 07 Pub, Shine and Hardin LLP, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Headwaters Counseling, Tom Steele Tires, Punch Films and Yellow Retirement Communities. Together, they will receive approximately $218,000 in City funding and have pledged to contribute just more than $938,000 in private investment to do everything from install new windows to paint and add new stone exteriors.
The announcement was held on April 13 at Punch Films, 200 6th St., just north of the St. Marys River and near the planned first phase of riverfront development. Punch Films just recently moved in to the previously vacant building and is renovating it in order to lease space to other businesses. The façade grant will help Punch Films clean and tuck point the exterior brick and stonework, and replace all the windows on the south elevation.
I introduced the Commercial Façade Grant program in 2008 as part of my ongoing commitment to help local businesses thrive and expand, particularly in the heart of Fort Wayne. The program is designed to assist business owners in making improvements to the exterior of their commercial properties. Enhancements can include new siding, architectural features, signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing and more.
We require applicants to provide a dollar-for-dollar match in order to receive the grant. The program has been so successful that from 2009-2016, we’ve awarded approximately $1.5 million in grant funding, which leveraged more than $3.8 million of private investment toward improvements. A total of 83 projects have been completed since the program was introduced. In order to be eligible for a façade grant, a business must be located within one of the City’s Economic Development Target Areas, which are commercial corridors that are more challenging to redevelop because of the age of the buildings.
Locally owned and operated businesses are essential to Fort Wayne’s economic success. This façade grant program helps these smaller enterprises continue to succeed and provide jobs for residents. I am encouraged by the positive momentum and investments we’re seeing on key urban corridors and throughout our community.
In addition, we’re seeing continued progress with riverfront development. The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) has approved $5,170,480 in Regional Cities funding for Riverfront Development Phase 1. All Regional Cities projects must receive final approval from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The IEDC is expected to review the RDA’s approval in the near future.
Riverfront construction will begin in late June and it’s anticipated to take 18 months. The dedication will likely be held in the spring of 2019. The first phase of riverfront development will be focused on the public spaces in a park setting. Development will occur on the south and north sides of the St. Marys River between Harrison Street and the historic Wells Street Bridge. Highlights of the plans include a promenade, park pavilion, event lawn, entry plaza with sculpture/signage, urban bioswale, educational water feature, urban streetscape, central plaza, urban riverfront terraces, elevated boardwalk, dock, interactive sculpture, and children’s play area.
We’re appreciative of the support we’ve received for riverfront development. Our commitment to the riverfront will enhance our position as a point of destination city.