Many possibilities for North River

The city bought the former scrap yard last week for $4.6 million from Calhoun Investments.

Posted: Dec 9, 2017 11:01 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - The city of Fort Wayne is working to get the newly acquired North River property ready for development.

The city bought the former scrap yard last week for $4.6 million from Calhoun Investments.

The plan is to clean up the property and turn around and sell the 29-acre lot across from Science Central for development.

Officials have said there is a lot of interest in the property, including IU Health for a new hospital.

However, some people want to remember the land's original use, a rail yard that was built more than a century ago.

"It has to be something special. It has to offer something for everybody and we think Headwaters Junction is that attraction," said Kelly Lynch, Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society vice president.

Lynch said the project, known as Headwaters Junction, would help make Fort Wayne a destination city.

The project on the former OmniSource site would include a museum and train rides.

"To create a very vibrant atmospheric, almost romantic, place. This is an attraction that even if you aren't necessarily a train lover, or a history lover, it's still a great place," said Lynch.

The Lutheran Health Network was once interested in buying the property for a new hospital to replace St. Joseph Hospital, but withdrew it's option to the city before city council approved the purchase.

Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association president Bud Mendenhall said neighbors are excited about the possibilities.

"We're excited for either one that goes in there. It will be really nice, really good for the neighborhood, for Fort Wayne too," said Mendenhall

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock, who represents the area surrounding the North River Property, said it doesn't matter what goes there, he just wants to see the city do it right.

"We should certainly be expeditious but lets not rush this. Lets not be penny wise and pound foolish. Lets make sure we put together a plan that is really doable and something that will be of benefit to our city for years to come," said Paddock.

In order to buy the property, it had to let the previous owners off the hook for any liabilities, including environmental clean up.

The reports released Monday show there isn't much to clean up.

The city estimates will cost about $250,000 depending on development.

However, the city could get that money back.

"What's something that will either bring tourism down there and bring in tax dollars as in sales tax and income tax, even if it might be a non-for-profit. Or what might be a for profit that will bring in more property tax dollars," said Paddock.

The city will ultimately decide what is built on the land because it owns it.

Officials tell WFFT it could be awhile before they official ask for proposals.

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