May 4, 2020 - The City of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Public Realm Action Plan is the recipient of the prestigious 2020 National Planning Achievement Gold Award for Urban Design.
Implementation of the plan was led by the City’s Planning & Policy Department and helped transform several downtown alleys into welcoming places. One of those was the Porch Off Calhoun, located in the parking spaces adjacent to the alley on Calhoun Street next to Pint ‘n Slice, 816 S. Calhoun St. The parking spaces were transformed in August last year into a welcoming gathering area with seating, planters, art and lighting; the Porch Off Calhoun opening has been delayed this year due to the coronavirus but may open as soon as the beginning of June.
Improvements were also made to the alleyways located between Berry Street, Washington Boulevard, Harrison Street and Calhoun Street. The improvements include string lighting, signage, dumpster screening, bump out and crosswalk painting, mural and overhead art installations and the placement of moveable furniture and planters. They are designed to encourage people to walk and explore the downtown alley murals as well as take a seat and simply hang out.
The Downtown Public Realm Action Plan was developed through a partnership between Gehl, an internationally recognized architecture and urban design firm, and the Planning & Policy Department. The plan and implementation efforts were funded primarily by grants from the Knight Foundation/Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne. Other partners include 816 Pint ‘n Slice, the Downtown Improvement District and the Fort Wayne New Markets Revitalization Fund.
The National Planning Achievement Gold Award for Urban Design is part of the American Planning Association’s National Awards Program to recognize achievements by individuals, planning departments, government agencies and private firms for their leadership and innovation on planning issues.
When announcing the award, the American Planning Association stated: “Dark alleys that residents used to avoid have now become a connected series of pedestrian environments that increase community safety and expand equitable access to public space.”
A short video about the award can be found here: https://planning.org/awards/2020/achievement/downtown-fort-wayne/. The Downtown Public Realm Action Plan can be found online here: https://bit.ly/2YmYpKm