$150M development proposed for former OmniSource site
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - For years, the former OmniSource site across Clinton Street from Science Central has been floated as a prime spot for new development.
In his state of the city speech, Mayor Tom Henry touted an agreement with a local developer for the property. With all the snow, the 30-acre former OmniSource site looks bleak, and its future looked bleak for decades before the city bought it several years ago as a development opportunity.
Mayor Henry announced the city has signed a memorandum of understanding with a local developer with big ideas for the property.
“A soccer stadium for our new soccer team, and beginning to work south to include an event center, a track and field facility, a hotel, and a restaurant, and probably everything else in between,” he said.
The proposal is estimated to cost about $150 million, although the plans are still in the very early stages.
Differing plans have been floated for the site over the years, but Henry says this is the farthest any developer has gone towards committing to it.
But does the suggested event center mean Mayor Henry could finally get the arena he wanted downtown, which studies found to be cost-prohibitive?
“This is more of an event center. They want to bring musical acts there that are probably too small for the Coliseum but too big for the Embassy or for the Foellinger. They want to be able to offer other types of activities within that, so on purpose, they called it an event center. It’s not an arena,” Henry insisted.
“It’s the front door, kind of the gateway into downtown,” Greater Fort Wayne Inc’s John Urbahns said.
He says the property is prime real estate, would anchor the north side of the Saint Marys River and is vital for continuing development in the city.
“It’s much easier to go to a community and invest in that community if they’re investing in themselves and making it a place where people want to be. And that’s what the Landing and Riverfront development have been about,” he said.
He says it remains to be seen how much of the estimated $150 million will come from public funding and how much from private investment. But he thinks soccer is becoming a big draw these days, and says Fort Wayne might be able to capitalize on that.
“You look at the Indy 11 down in Indy, Louisville has just invested in a soccer stadium, Cincinnati. It’s a growing sport and we’ll see how it all plays out,” Urbahns said.
If things go according to plan, the Fort Wayne FC pre-professional soccer team will begin playing this May. However, plans for the proposed soccer stadium and other plans for the North River site are still several years away from becoming a reality.
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