From Kevin Leininger of The News-Sentinel, representatives of MSKTD outlined plans for a $163 million downtown project that would include a hotel, water park, theaters, shops and possibly a casino.

As proposed,the project would include the following:

  • $28.2 million hotel
  • $28.8 million theater
  • $56.4 million water park
  • $13.8 million IMAX theater
  • $8.5 million in retail and office space
  • $26.7 million casino (if authorized)

Details of the proposal may be found on Summit City Holdings’ website.

See also:

Around Fort Wayne (Stephen Parker) –
A casino *IS* coming to Fort Wayne – updated
‘Several months of meetings with the City…’

Berry Street Beacon (Charlotte Weybright)

Fort Wayne News
1500 jobs coming to Fort Wayne?
Fort Wayne Casino?


Derrick Gingery of Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reported today that the City’s interest in purchasing the former OmniSource property has waned:

Fort Wayne officials no longer are actively pursuing the North River property, which had been considered a potential site for a mixed-use retail and residential development project.

With the city budget being scaled back because of property-tax reform legislation, Community Development Director John Urbahns said he has not talked with the Rifkin family, the owners of the property, for some time.

“With the state of the city budget, we haven’t had any discussions with them,” Urbahns said. “It’s not on the front burner.


With the city no longer actively trying to buy the property, it is available for private purchase. City officials have their own ideas for how to develop the property, but Urbahns said if it is sold to someone else, any project will be evaluated when it is submitted.

Urbahns said the city never intended to own the property for an extended period.

“Our goal all along was to get it in private-sector hands,” he said.”

This is good news in my opinion.  I didn’t favor the city owning the property outright so it heads back to the open market.  This does raise a few more questions:

  1. Now that negotiations are no longer ongoing will the environmental study report finally be released?
  2. Is the site being considered for casino development by private investors? (I’m personally opposed to the idea, particularly at this location)
  3. Can anything be done in the short term (and at minimal cost) to make this parcel more visually appealing? The site stands ailing as the first glimpse of our city to visitors entering from the North.

Ben Lanka reported this morning that although the City’s option to purchase the former OmniSource property expired, negotiations will move forward. Of particular interest was this

While the option and the money the city spent are both gone, [city development director, John] Urbahns said it wasn’t a waste. Having a purchase option provided the city access to the site and an ability to study its environmental condition. The environmental studies are complete, and Urbahns said nothing surprising was found, but the city has refused to release the reports.

I’m still dumbfounded by the refusal to release the environmental studies reports.  After all, we the taxpayers paid for them. Aren’t we entitled to know?

Derrick Gingery of Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly scooped the traditional media today reporting that the City’s option to purchase the OmniSource property will not be renewed.

Fort Wayne Community Development Director John Urbahns said June 24 there are no plans to extend the option a second time.

    “Whether June 30 comes or goes with no action, we will continue to negotiate with the owners,” he said. “Obviously, we’re still very interested in it. It’s just a matter of trying to work through an agreement.”

    The city paid $25,000 in January 2007 for the right to buy the 29-acre property just north of downtown for $4.3 million. The one-year option was extended another six months on Jan. 1 of this year.

    Reducing the price and donating the land to the city were among the possibilities discussed, but no proposal is on the table, Urbahns said.

    The extension that is about to run out was a verbal agreement, Urbahns said. He said the fate of the money the city paid for the option has not been discussed.

    The option had value because of what the city was able to do with the property during the last 18 months, Urbahns said.

    “It’s been valuable to have time to look at the property, do an environmental assessment on the property,” he said.

    If there is no renewal of the option or the owners decide to move in another direction, Urbahns said the city still has a role to play in the development of the property.

    “Even if it’s a totally private development, we’d like a role for the city to play in how it develops,” Urbahns said. “We want to be involved.”

    The North River property is a former site for OmniSource Corp. The Rifkin family, which owned OmniSource before Steel Dynamics Inc. acquired the company last year, is negotiating with the city to sell the land.


    City planners think the North River site could be another catalyst development similar to Harrison Square. The development could be anchored by a regional attraction on the north side — perhaps a water park — and would be surrounded by retail space and townhouses. A mixed-use development, more townhouses and a river landing could be included on the south, according to a proposal.

    Environmental testing to determine contaminant levels on the land also has been completed. City officials have declined to discuss the test results until a deal is done.”

Kudos to Mr. Gingery for his efforts!

On a related note, the News-Sentinel also reports today that the Rifkin brothers have left SDI/OmniSource…

Three brothers who grew up with OmniSource Corp. as the family business have left the company, which was purchased by Steel Dynamics Inc. last year.

Fred Warner, manager of investor relations for SDI, said that a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month disclosed that Danny, Marty and Rick Rifkin are leaving the company. The brothers continue to own stock in SDI, stock which was part of the $1.1 billion purchase agreement in October.

Danny Rifkin was OmniSource’s chief operating officer and SDI’s executive vice president. He will continue to hold a seat on SDI’s board of directors. Marty Rifkin and Rick Rifkin were both executive vice presidents of nonferrous.



Any day now we expect to learn the decision reached regarding the OmniSource property.  Will the City pass up the opportunity to purchase this parcel? Is doing so now the best option?

Considering County Council’s approval today of the Maplecrest Road Adams Center Road Extension, one wonders when the spending spree will end.  This could perhaps be the most expensive week for Allen County taxpayers in 2008.

(Hat-tip: Scott Spaulding – Fort Wayne Politics)

I’m going to break from tradition. The following post has nothing to do with North Fort Wayne River Development but concerns an issue that warrants a response. I submitted the following Letter to the Editor regarding the recent FWCS Graduation Lockout

(An open letter to FWCS Administrators)
It appears ceremonies have changed little since my graduation from Snider over twenty years ago.
So what if a few overzealous parents and friends of graduating students applaud, whoop it up, or yell in support of their graduate’s accomplishment? So what if they show up late to the event? Was it due to a lack of respect for the event itself or a family emergency? Do you even know?
What is really accomplished by denying them access to the well-earned ceremony other than to assert your control over the graduates for the last time?
What a nice example you set for your graduates about freedom of speech and self expression! I remember too well, the angst I felt at seeing the parents of fellow graduates escorted off the premises, parents perhaps applauding the first member of their family to graduate from high school. At my own graduation we were well-warned that tossing our caps into the air would result in the withholding of our diplomas. Thanks for the respect you showed us by instilling such fear.
FWCS continues to be more concerned with appearances than with proper instruction. With your recent logo remake (see here, here, here, & here),  you paid $15,000 to a local advertising company to come up with a new design so similar to the agency’s own logo as to draw questions about the expense paid. Show a little respect for the futures of your graphic arts students. You missed the perfect opportunity to provide real-life work experience by awarding scholarships for the winning design: $5,000 to the winner, $3,000 to the runner up and $1000 for honorable mention. The $9,000 in scholarships would have saved you $6,000 in expenses and provided an invaluable leg-up for these students.
Show a little respect, FWCS administrators. You claim that “We Are Your Schools.” Act accordingly. Allow supporters the opportunity to applaud the efforts of their graduates. Perhaps graduation ceremonies will be a half an hour longer. Don’t your students and their parents deserve that much?
Over twenty years, and yet FWCS has learned so little about human behavior. By denying family members their first amendment rights for free speech, you encourage the very behavior you seek to repress. Allowing ample time for applause won’t hurt you or diminish reasonable decorum.
I for one, applaud their civil disobedience. These are our future leaders, the ones who will determine the course we set, and care for us in our old age. If you really believe in them, show a little respect.
David A. MacDonald
R. Nelson Snider High School Graduate
Class of 1985
P.S. Allowing a prayer to be recited during the ceremony wouldn’t hurt either.”


IndianasNewsCenter reported yesterday that City negotiations with owners of the OmniSource property remain ongoing as the June 30 deadline draws near…

[…] the city’s director of community development [John Urbahns] says if the other side agrees, negotiations could continue a short time beyond that date.

Though the OmniSource property is vacant and would require extensive clean-up of old industrial contamination, it is still a prized piece of land from the city’s perspective.

A task force recently identified it as a place that could host a major attraction near downtown, labeled the “North River” development.

The city has an option to buy the land for 4.3 million dollars, but it appears unlikely the city is willing to pay that much now.

Director John Urbahns/Community Development: ” We’re having a number of discussions with the property owners and um, as I say, when we’re trying to figure out how we can get it done, the city is obviously in a different financial situation than it was a year ago, and we need to look at all options that are out there.”

The different financial situation Urbahns mentioned relates to less money coming in because of property tax reform in Indiana, so if the city is going to obtain the property it’s going to have to be at a lower price.

That’s especially true if major clean-up costs will have to be paid.

The city won’t disclose results of environmental testing, so we don’t know what the costs would be.

The city’s refusal to disclose testing results still disturbs me.  Taxpayers paid for it.  We deserve to know.