Bob Durnell wrote:Well, SOME of us tried to tell everybody that the Grand Wayne expansion configuerd that way was going to cut the heart of the city in half, and we were ignored or told to shut up. Then we TRIED to tell the powers that be that Parkview Field and the new hotel were being built on the wrong side of the Grand Wayne Center, and once again we were ignored. The first planning consultant told the city the same thing, but it wasn't what the Richard administration wanted to hear, so they just hired another consultant that agreed with them to give them political cover for what they were going to do all along. I am also on record as saying the Harrison will be a white elephant and after five years will struggle to see 50% occupancy. That project was shoved down our throat so hard, that I fear we will ALL be choking on it for years to come.
Bob, forgive the delay in responding. I have made myself very familiar with the economic development scene since 2007, largely because of the idea for HWJ and Parkview Field itself. If you had told me when I graduated that I would become...obsessed with this at 27, I would have thought it crazy. But here I am, 27, and crazy. While I worked for the Ohio Central or was in college for much of the discussion about the Grand Wayne Center/The Harrison and North River, I still studied it relentlessly. To a great degree, it was because of Parkview Field that I decided that Fort Wayne could be capable of a project like HWJ, and thus I wanted to stay and see it (and a number of other things) happen.
There are many threads progressing in this city - quality of life, housing, workforce development, education, etc and the city won't evolve if one of these threads progresses alone. If the city were to stay stagnant say, circa 1995, then the Harrison and Anthony Wayne Condo project would definitely falter, but the idea is to support a growing demand among millennials and empty-nesters or just people that want to live downtown. Three Rivers apartments are at 95% capacity right now.
A variety of studies from organizations like the Knight Foundation show that people of all ages, primarily millennials, want a return to diverse urban cores and walkable neighborhoods and downtowns, which can only be achieved by having people live, work, and leisure within the core instead of the suburbs. This is an un-doing of the post-war sprawl. If this "return to form" doesn't occur, yes -- Harrison, AWB, and other projects will falter -- and that return to form is contingent on quality of life offerings, social activities, educational and workforce opportunities, etc.
The rising tide needs to raise all ships, but there need to be ships in the water to begin with. Politics aside, in this case the city took a great risk to set the table/set the tone for community development in the private sector. It's much like starting a business -- if I'm not willing to invest what I have as a business owner, why would any investor (citizen, corporate, private, wealthy, etc) want to invest either?
Even though I'm the son of a political cartoonist, I am not very political -- I'm an advocate for community, quality and sense of place, etc. I don't expect or desire that the city underwrite every effort to these ends, but the appetite for it has to exist for it to get anywhere.
I was looking through some planning redevelopment documents last night that highlighted the area between Fairfield and Harrison and the area around the Grand Wayne and Parkview Field. At one point the lots where Taco Bell and Rallys exist was going to be purchased and redeveloped (far too expensive right now, too many land leases...etc), which would have built up this corner.
After reviewing it, I think that the field on the other side of Jefferson would have effectively left a hole where the ballpark, the Embassy, and Baker Street station are. An urban core must have diversity and density. Now that Harrison Street will be the subject of redevelopment into an entertainment destination/venue, you've filled up your downtown from Baker to someday Superior and the riverfront, creating the density that expands from river to rail, which is part of why there are cold feet about North River -- its "too far away" when in reality it's a few blocks (no problem if you've ever lived in Chicago) -- but likewise, because of the focus on riverfront development, the idea is to build between these anchors and areas of "energy."