The last post here appeared last month, as yours truly continues work on some projects and recreation that has taken up free time. Perhaps this was fortuitous, for today's Detroit News has a story by Louis Aguilar about Historic Fort Wayne that is, indeed, hopeful, as hoped for last month here. Some excerpts:
"A New York City firm specializing in finding ways to create massive urban projects has begun analyzing how to revive Historic Fort Wayne, a long underused 96-acre site on the banks of the Detroit River.
HR&A Advisors Inc. was hired in late January for $235,000 by the state's Michigan Economic Development Corp., according to state officials. Its goal is to come up with a realistic plan to keep the fort's historic nature while finding some other new use: housing, office or industrial.
'We hope a vision plan will be delivered by the end of the year, hopefully, well before the end of the year,' said Andrew Doctoroff, a special projects adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder. 'HR&A are not developers but land use experts. They visualize what is possible,' Doctoroff said.
The feasibility study shows the state of Michigan is taking a more active role in shaping the future of the city-owned Fort Wayne. Because the site is on the federal National Register of Historic Places, the state has some jurisdiction because the state plays a role in preserving Michigan landmarks."
"Members of the New York firm visited Fort Wayne for the first time last week."
"The New York firm HR&A specializes in coming up with strategies on how to turn around major public spaces. On its website it cites its role in forming the celebrated High Line in Manhattan, which is a greenway built on a former elevated rail line. It also played a role in London's 2012 Olympic Park, and helped developed a plan to overhaul a portion of downtown Cincinnati. HR&A didn't respond to interview requests.
The HR&A contract is the result of a request for proposals for the site issued by the state late last year. That request for proposal said any bid must 'contemplate maintaining the historic integrity of Fort Wayne,' according to the state document. It also states any possible redevelopment of the site could include traditional commercial real estate such as housing or retail, as well as 'cultural development' or 'logistics-related development.' That last description refers to warehouse and other transportation-oriented businesses that would benefit from Fort Wayne's close proximity to the U.S.-Canada border.
A 2003 study of Fort Wayne estimated that it would cost at least $58 million to restore the site."
The Snyder Administration is to be commended. As far as known here, no other State support has appeared for HFW in the past eight years, at least. Here's hoping for more ...