Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:02 pm

Bob Durnell wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:18 am
I can't provide detailed specifics,
Can you at least divulge if your offer was to lease or to purchase? (just being nosey)

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Bob Durnell » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:39 pm

First off, I am not affiliated with Headwaters Junction in ANY way. I Just follow it very closely and have read, watched or listened to ever single thing I can find that has discussed it, and I have a pretty good idea what has been put out there. Now, West Wayne was mentioned. As far as I'm concerend, that is a non-starter. The facility would basically be invisible back there. You could drive down Main Street every day and not even know it was there. That's the one big advantage North River has is the thousands upon thousands cars that would drive by it every day and the proximity to Science Central, the Three River's Festival and the riverfront development. You can't put a price on that. The other issue is that retreating to West Wayne would pretty much wipe out all the trackage that could be used for trolley rides, caboose hops, Santa Trains, etc. The former FW&J right of way between Osage Street and North River is one of several pieces of the puzzle that makes all of this work. If they can use that, they don't even have to pay for a switch out onto the NS main, which is critical for several reasons. West Wayne is simply on the wrong side of the tracks. That would also likely eliminate any dream of connecting the zoo by rail. For this project to be truly practical and have any chance of long term success, it is my opinion that North River, Lawton park, or The Pepsi Bottling property are about the ONLY three viable options. It is also my opinion that the city should have never got involved with actually buying North River, and if that ends up being an albatross around their neck so be it, but their poor decision making shouldn't be used as an excuse to deny the only entity that has put forward a solid proposal for its use.
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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:35 am

Bob Durnell wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:39 pm
North River has is the thousands upon thousands cars that would drive by it every day and the proximity to Science Central, the Three River's Festival and the riverfront development. You can't put a price on that.
Quite to the contrary, I believe that is exactly what they are doing.

I'm having a hard time following your logic that the City is obligated to accept the offer on the table just because it's the only one. This isn't like a construction project where they are obligated to accept low bid, is it?
Perhaps what you consider to be a "qualified" offer, and what the City considers to be a "qualified" offer, are two different animals? Just a thought.

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:52 am

I could be wrong about this, but also I believe the Society not having it's own local excursion track FOR THE 765 limits the appeal to the community of the whole package.

The Society are imagining the 765 as a centerpiece "pull" to their operation, yet how often will that be more than a static display for local audiences?

Riding the zoo tram past a stationary 765 and explaining to the kids that "they only run that 250 miles away from here" kind of fails (IMO) the "catalytic and transformative" litmus test. And I do suspect that the decision makers are astute enough to have figured that one out.

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Bob Durnell » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:46 am

Hotbox wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:35 am
Bob Durnell wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:39 pm
North River has is the thousands upon thousands cars that would drive by it every day and the proximity to Science Central, the Three River's Festival and the riverfront development. You can't put a price on that.
Quite to the contrary, I believe that is exactly what they are doing.

I'm having a hard time following your logic that the City is obligated to accept the offer on the table just because it's the only one. This isn't like a construction project where they are obligated to accept low bid, is it?
Perhaps what you consider to be a "qualified" offer, and what the City considers to be a "qualified" offer, are two different animals? Just a thought.
The city put out the criteria. Even they admitted that the HWJ proposal was the only one that met their criteria. That's them talking, not me. If you invite people to play your game, and they play by the rules you set out, should you not be rewarded for winning the game? As for the vehicle traffic past North River, what other project has even been discussed that relies on that the way HWJ would? A hospital? No. An arena? No. Housing? No. Once again, if the city is so dead set against having HWJ at North River, what are they doing to try to find a suitable alternative to offer? This is economic development and tourism, things the city claims to be all for. If I'm the mayor, I'm trying to find a way to make this work. I been an Allen County resident my entire 52 years, and you learn a few things along the way. Among those, is that if you are not part of the right clique, you're swimming upstream all the way. Evidently, the primary backers of HWJ are not in the right clique, or the city would be falling all over themselves to make it happen.
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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by nathansixchime » Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:22 pm

Good thread, all. Lemme fill in some blanks, but first some documentation...

Here's a page dedicated to showcasing and documenting the sincere and significant community support that Headwaters Junction has:
https://headwatersjunction.com/community/

Here's another outlining the board members and advisors, several of whom are retired employees of the City of Fort Wayne:
https://headwatersjunction.com/leadership/

The support this project has is also evidenced by the 200+ comments and engagement on this post, too:
https://www.facebook.com/fortwaynerailr ... 3008442883
Hotbox wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:52 am
I could be wrong about this, but also I believe the Society not having it's own local excursion track FOR THE 765 limits the appeal to the community of the whole package.

The Society are imagining the 765 as a centerpiece "pull" to their operation, yet how often will that be more than a static display for local audiences? Riding the zoo tram past a stationary 765 and explaining to the kids that "they only run that 250 miles away from here" kind of fails (IMO) the "catalytic and transformative" litmus test. And I do suspect that the decision makers are astute enough to have figured that one out.
You're quite right on the final point, because this project is much bigger than the 765. Having the 765 is like having your own "Elvis," and everybody knows who Elvis is. They may not know his bass player or drummer, but the attractions that will inhabit and operate at HWJ include all of the other members of "the band." In this case, an 0-6-0, a 2-8-2, an SD9, potentially a tank engine, passenger cars, freight cars and other items that are part of our strategic acquisition process.

Like they have done in Oregon, with the highly visible/public Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation building, they've given their storied locomotives a public home, even if they don't operate with any regularity (and candidly, they specifically did this because they know the mainline future for steam is uncertain, if not downright bleak.) We are fully transparent in each presentation, document and on the website that HWJ is more than just about the 765, but the 765's history, legacy, success and worldwide appeal are worth noting because you can have successful heritage railroad attraction operations without the 765 (and even without steam!) but the 765 is one of the deeply unique attractions which makes HWJ all-the-more-special. It's the operations, programs and events of HWJ that will make it catalytic - not just the 765. The 765, however, does a charming job at making the case. But so do our sold-out Santa Trains.

We address some of this in the FAQs under "Will the 765 operate at Headwaters Junction?" https://headwatersjunction.com/faq/

As to the attractions and programs, they are also detailed here: https://headwatersjunction.com/programs/

Ultimately, what this boils down to are philosophical obstacles about ROI. HWJ as a non-profit will not directly generate the type of traditional tax revenue that condos, apartments, and restaurants will. There is a significant demand that developments on/near the riverfront produce big tax dollars. Of course, one would never argue that the Zoo or the Embassy don't contribute to the tax base because they do in a myriad of other ways.

We have meaningful support from the City for the concept of the project, and we are negotiating on location and access. They understand that not having Pepsi or North River amounts to us making significant compromises. We understand that we're poised to control land they want to use for private, tax-generating development. While the 12 years of work on this project isn't exactly rainbows and butterflies, the Oregon project took ten years to happen and given the scope of this is larger than an enginehouse, I suppose 12 years is okay by me if the means justify the ends.

West Wayne as a piece of land by-itself may lack some of the clear merits of other locations, but if you consider a development at West Wayne as a neighborhood redevelopment project, it starts to look a little more like what Parkview Field has done for the Baker/Brackenridge area. When you also factor in what PSR is doing to the railroads, and the focus on core business and networks, the GR&I's future is, in NS's own words, "open for discussion." We are currently exploring creating a common carrier railroad to acquire this line should it become available and have several backers that would help rope the GR&I into the fold. While the GR&I was always part of the long term strategic plan, it may quickly become part of the first or second phase instead of the seventh. Even without a connection to the Zoo via the FW&J right-of-way, you can still reach it behind the Dana plant north of State Street with a 4,000-foot spur. I was intrigued to learn during a recent meeting with the City that the question was asked about how we'd feel being neighbors to the Zoo as part of the forthcoming Franke Park master plan/expansion along Goshen Road. Having that kind of neighbor could never be a bad thing...

But yes, there are some politics at play. If I was a multimillionaire CEO, the project would be done by now. I'm saving my "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown" post for when I'm ready to walk away, but I believe 2020 will be the year we know what our address will be, because things will have finally played out.
Hotbox wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:59 pm

The FWRHS offered "updates" as a perk to becoming a supporting member. They renegged on that offer when they chose to not inform people of the test runs. They may very well have had sterling reasons for their covertness, but that does nothing to change what they promised versus what they did.
This was before my time as a board member, let alone Vice President and it's times have changed. I don't think it's necessarily fair that you are recalling a grudge from 2006 during the test run without acknowledging the complete about-face we've taken with regards to letting people know as much as humanly possible about the 765's moves, right down to installing a GPS transponder on the engine and having dedicated (and very popular) channels to broadcast this information. We publish a monthly member's email blast, weekly updates to a members-only section of our website and I make sure to send an email update each time the 765 leaves the property. This doesn't mean the railroads are encouraging that we post this kind of information and one of them has specifically asked us to not be too specific, but there's a difference between broadcasting it on social media and making it available "privately" to supporters.

The FWRHS has done an about-face from being the insular club it once was and it's been a significant passion of mine to make the Society accessible, inviting, encouraging, culturally relevant, transparent and something that can be enjoyed by everyone – or else none of it will matter much in the 21st Century. Those are by-and-large major personal motivating factors behind Headwaters Junction, too. What railroad preservation and tourism is capable of will never be fully realized at Edgerton Road. Focusing our popular brand of events and programs into downtown follows the same logic of moving a baseball field from Coliseum to downtown. You put it where you want people to be.

I hope you can give us some credit that the Society is not the group or organization it used to be and has come a long way in focusing on core values, communication, etc -- and even one of our remaining founding members suggested as much in a recent board meeting.
I think that is 90%. I think the other 10% of is that the articles Kelly writes for the papers sound just a little too "P.T. Barnum" ish to me...I think when you read someone who is so over the top as he often is, it naturally puts your tail between your legs. And I don't mean that to sound as an insult.
If there was a book on how people could get things done in this community, I'd happily buy all the copies, but there isn't and this project is not as simple as "well, it's a baseball field..." and I wish it was. It's like trying to sell an octopus one leg at a time. I'll happily accept the PT Barnum comparison, but if you review the comments/endorsement listed in the community support link above, I am by far not the only believer, especially when you have business owners buying up places on Wells Street just to be near the project -- that even amazes me!
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:08 pm

Thanks for the in depth reply. This will probably sound like a dumb question, but it never really occurred to me until just reading your linked resources, that the FWRHS and Headwaters Junction are two separate entities. I always just assumed that HWJ was to become the new address for the FWRHS. But I see now that you have created a separate entity.

EXACTLY what will be the relationship between the two, if your plans come to fruition?

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by nathansixchime » Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:18 pm

Great question. The best comparison I can make is the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF) is the "parent" of the groups that inhabit the Foundation's engine-house in Portland, Oregon. ORHF's primary mission was to create the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and now programs the Center with events, volunteers and an employee. Members from each group that occupies the Center (Friends of the 4449, 700, etc) all have seats on the board, and leadership also includes several community leaders and business owners.

The FWRHS is good at operating trains, running events, etc, but not necessarily equipped to take on a project of this scale without distracting from its core mission. HWJ's mission is to establish and build the attraction and acquire the land, equipment and handle fundraising. Like with ORHF, several FWRHS members sit on HWJ's board. It's likely at some point that other likeminded organizations may share leadership with HWJ, too.

While it's possible the two entities will merge, it's likely that HWJ will become the managing organization like ORHF and FWRHS (and other groups) will be tenants.
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:46 am

I see, well thanks for the reply.
Sincerely I hope that you guys succeed, I hope my pessimism has not given any impression to the contrary. Personally having considerable experience working as a landlord of commercial properties, your offer certainly presents challenges, as I outlined above. Suffice it to say that it's no mystery why they are not breaking down your doors trying to get a signature.

Good luck!! :D

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:42 am

nathansixchime wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:18 pm

While it's possible the two entities will merge, it's likely that HWJ will become the managing organization like ORHF and FWRHS (and other groups) will be tenants.
So does that mean that HWJ would become the property owner, and FWRHS will be it's tenant, or would HWJ be leasing the property and then subleasing to FWRHS?

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by nathansixchime » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:01 pm

HWJ would be the property owner.
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http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:28 pm

Well this is just my personal "gut", I have no inside knowledge whatsoever, but I'd bet that your proposal would be better received if you could find a second user to take the balance of the total space.

They've got to have considerable site remediation costs that are easier to pass along if they can dilute them over the entire parcel.

If you've made them a "tight offer" (non-profit organization, etc etc) just for the portion your drawings depict, then they are likely looking at getting stuck with a goodly amount of the remediation cost that they will have to recover from any future user of the remaining portion. Obviously a less than ideal circumstance for them. Just my 2 cents tho, I'm officially a know nothing.

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by nathansixchime » Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:34 pm

Ohh, yes that was always the idea with North River -- use only about 10-15 acres and help mitigate remediation where possible, but right now we're soley focused on the West Wayne site.
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Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:14 pm

nathansixchime wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:34 pm
but right now we're soley focused on the West Wayne site.
That's probably for the best. I've always felt that the Nebraska area possessed a unique charm. Best of luck!

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Re: Can anybody explain the city of Fort Wayne's lack of interest in Headwater's Junction?

Post by Hotbox » Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:20 pm

Sometimes a party can become so engrossed in tailoring an offer that ideally suits their own needs, that they become blind to certain aspects that present unacceptable challenges to the other party.

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