Revitalizing Downtown, Focusing Efforts on Eyesores (With Photos)

By Stephanie Parkinson

October 29, 2012 Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Monday Ferguson Advertising unveiled its newly remodeled space on West Berry Street. But as their downtown Fort Wayne building is given new life nearby eyesores continue to plague the city.

"Eliminating blight is a key component to a vibrant downtown," said Bill Brown, Interim President, Downtown Improvement District.

The advertising company’s new space is on the third floor of the building located at 347 West Berry. The second floor is still under construction and looking for tenants.

"It's a fascinating addition to downtown. The more businesses we can add downtown the more exciting downtown becomes," said Mayor Tom Henry, Fort Wayne.

"For me, personally, being able to invest back into this community is really important," said John Ferguson, President, Ferguson Advertising.

Almost $1,000,000 has been invested so far in the building housing Ferguson Advertising but as these revitalization projects continue the Downtown Improvement District is also focusing its efforts on cleaning up some of the eyesores downtown.

"I'm an advocate to clean up the railroad areas, we had a volunteer cleanup, we had almost 20 people Saturday cleaning up one of the railroad viaducts," said Brown.

Bill Brown leads the Downtown Improvement District. Although he can look at cleaning up the spaces near the tracks Norfolk Southern owns the track. That means any major changes to the facade would have to come from them.

The city no longer allows things like barbed wire to be put up but getting rid of what's been there for decades isn't easy. Brown says what can help is community awareness.

"Many times it's important to help them understand how they create a negative image but unfortunately the sad truth is some people just don't care, most do, but some don't," said Brown.

The Downtown Improvement District can help clean up properties if the owners want that but they are not able to do it without their consent. It's a process Brown says is very difficult for the Improvement District.

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