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Pandemic pumps the brakes on riverfront development

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Signs of utility work jut out into the Saint Marys River, in a section that will eventually be home to phase two of riverfront development.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - City officials are saying COVID-19 has delayed progress on phase two of riverfront development by nine to 12 months.

But more things to draw people to the river's edge downtown are coming in the near future.

The public is pulled like a magnet to the natural beauty and amenities in Promenade Park, which was phase one of riverfront development on the Saint Marys River.

Phase two is coming, which will unfold mostly east of the Harrison Street Bridge in the direction of the Martin Luther King Bridge.

With kayaks and other watercraft drifting down the river, contractors have been doing utility work on the south bank.

Later on, in 2021 and 2022, crews will take construction drawings and use that as the guide to methodically carve out new spaces where the public can gather and roam.

You would be seeing a little more progress now, if not for the impacts of COVID-19.

"We've kind of been on hold for awhile throughout the pandemic. It has pushed some of our implementation stuff back about 9 to 12 months. It'll probably be 2022 before we're looking at implementing any of it," said Stacy Haviland, a city landscape architect.

"I remember a time when Fort Wayne wasn't necessarily spruced up and elegant like it is now, but it's getting there," said Jaughny Jackson, who we found Thursday morning lounging in the sunshine at Promenade Park.

One of the things that will get a lot of attention over the months ahead is construction of the Riverfront at Promenade Park project.

Groundbreaking is anticipated late this year, but it will take three years or so before we see a new parking garage, apartments and shops spring up in the complex that will be situated straight across from Promenade Park.

It is hoped that phase two and phase three-- which will not take place for several more years-- can trigger more private investment in the form of shops, bars and restaurants close by the river.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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