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The Journal Gazette

  • David Rubin, founder of the David Rubin Land Collective, speaks Thursday to a large crowd attending the Riverfront Fort Wayne public input meeting at Grand Wayne Center. (Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette)

Friday, January 11, 2019 1:00 am

Riverfront ideas floated

Company behind next phases gathers public input

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Close to 200 people attended a public meeting Thursday outlining the progress so far on two upcoming phases of downtown riverfront development. 

Those in attendance Thursday heard from David Rubin, principal and founder of David Rubin Land Collective, the firm contracted to lead the second and third phases of the project.

Rubin discussed his firm's vision and guiding principles with the assembled crowd before encouraging the audience to participate in a series of stations designed to hear from residents about what they'd like to see along the riverfront. 

“Our goal will be to establish a plan that is financially responsible and capable of being realized,” Rubin said.

“If we don't do that, we will have failed.” 

Attendees also heard from Mayor Tom Henry, who described Fort Wayne's rivers as a treasure and announced that Promenade Park – the focus of the project's first phase – is expected to open June 21. 

“On June 21, we will begin a celebration, a celebration of our rivers,” Henry said. “We will open up Promenade Park to all of you, to your friends, your relatives, and in fact to the entire region to let everyone know that we in fact now have realized that our rivers truly are a treasure.”

But that's just the start, Henry said. 

“Eventually, we want to expand this whole initiative from roughly St. Joe Hospital and Van Buren Bridge all the way down ultimately to the confluence of the three rivers,” Henry said. “And what an adventure that will be.” 

Attendees at Thursday's event came from Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities and each had different ideas for what would work best for future riverfront development. 

Michael Makarewich, an Auburn resident and member of the Auburn Parks Board, said he attended Thursday's meeting to gather ideas for how to develop Cedar Creek on the east side of Auburn's downtown. 

“I was very interested in coming here to see what's going on with Fort Wayne and the very exciting prospect, because I'm hoping for Auburn it can be a transformative process as well as in Fort Wayne,” Makarewich said.

Makarewich said he hopes to replicate some of Fort Wayne's community engagement efforts in Auburn. 

“You want people to care about it,” he said. It can't be somebody's project or somebody else's idea. It has to be part of the community that says, 'Yes, we invested in this, our ideas are in this, this is part of our quality of life improvement and we want to see this enhance the city and enhance our living experience.'”

Makarewich said he often frequents Fort Wayne's downtown to get ideas for Auburn. For Fort Wayne's riverfront, Makarewich said he hopes to see more restaurants and activities for people to exercise and play along the river.

dgong@jg.net