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Detroit moves forward with plans to get historic Fort Wayne redeveloped

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The city will soon issue a request for information seeking development partners

A long, three-story building made of light-brown brick with rows of rectangular windows.
Barracks at Fort Wayne.
Getty Images

For years, Fort Wayne in Southwest Detroit has been steadily deteriorated with little funding going towards preservation. But a renewed push from the city to redevelop the historic site may soon change that.

The Detroit News is reporting that the city of Detroit will issue a request for information February 10 seeking development concepts for Fort Wayne. Development partners could be for- or nonprofits looking to occupy all or part of the city-owned 78-acre park. The city may also lease buildings and have a third party manage the property.

To encourage partnerships, it’s also going to lift land restrictions on the grounds to allow for a variety of potential developments.

In addition to the expansive grounds, the site includes the star-shaped fort built in 1842, a Native American burial mound, and various buildings including barracks, officers’ homes, a post office, and more. Many buildings will require extensive renovations and are in critical condition.

Interest in preserving and redeveloping the site has been strong for years, but grew considerably after plans emerged for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The U.S. point of entry will be adjacent to the fort.

”The fact that the bridge is happening is a big moment for Fort Wayne, because it has previously been so isolated,” Meagan Elliott, the city’s chief parks planner, told the Detroit News.

A 2015 study from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation found that it could cost $100 million to rehab the fort. In 2016, the Kresge Foundation awarded the city a $265,000 grant to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the site. The National Park and Kresge foundations continue to fund the planning process.

Fort Wayne is open to the public on certain days and hosts events throughout the year. It’s a popular location for weddings, sports, historic reenactments, and other activities.

Fort Wayne

, , MI 48209

Gordie Howe International Bridge

Gordie Howe International Bridge, , ON 48209