MAYOR TOM HENRYOur City is building positive momentum. Only three months into 2013, great things are happening!

We recently announced that 10 local businesses will receive 2013 Commercial Façade Grants — including a project that will certainly enhance Quimby Village!

As you may know, our Commercial Façade Grant program is making a dramatic impact on the appearance of commercial corridors in the heart of our city. This program has provided the boost our local business owners have needed to improve the appearance of their buildings and provide a more welcoming atmosphere for customers. Enhancements can include signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing and more.

I introduced this grant program in 2008 as part of my ongoing commitment to help local businesses thrive and expand, particularly along commercial corridors. The program has helped property owners revitalize building exteriors on Wells Street, Main Street, Calhoun Street, Taylor Street, Broadway and other heavily traveled corridors throughout the City.

This year’s façade grant awardees will receive a total of $202,691 in City funding and have pledged to contribute nearly $850,000 in private investment to make improvements on their properties.

The Quimby Village/Clyde Theater Revitalization Project on Bluffton Road will receive a $40,000 Façade Grant. Owner Rick Kinney of Even Keel Event Productions will match the grant with approximately $150,000 in improvements. Kinney plans to open a multifunctional performing arts center, art gallery and recording studio. Retail and office space will also be available, as well as space for a restaurant.

Last year, the City awarded Kinney Brownfield grants to investigate and remediate all asbestos and lead paint on the property. We know many of our residents would love to see this grand theater – which was patronized by so many of us in previous decades — be redeveloped! We are proud to be able to help this initiative.

Since this program was introduced, we’ve awarded $939,092 in grant funding, which has leveraged more than $2.6 million of private investment toward improvements. A total of 55 projects have been completed.

In addition to the Quimby Village Revitalization Project, the other 2013 façade grant recipients are: Billy’s Dug Out, 3401 Fairfield Ave.; Born Again Quilts, 4005 S. Wayne Ave.; Brewers’ Art Supply, 1425 Wells St.; Fairfield Shops, 2002-2014 Fairfield Ave.; Java Bean, 2715-2717 Broadway; North Anthony Center, 3322-3528 N. Anthony Blvd.; Oyster Bar, 1830 S. Calhoun St.; Redwood Inn, 1432-1436 W. Main St. and a building at 2020 Broadway.

Also, we recently learned that the historic Randall Building in downtown Fort Wayne is on track to be redeveloped. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has announced that the Randall Lofts apartments initiative will receive nearly $675,000 annually for 10 years in rental housing tax credits. Carmel-based RealAmerica Development plans to convert the building at 616 S. Harrison Street into 44 one-and-two-bedroom apartments. Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall.

This is great news for our city because it contributes to the revitalization of the area and will succeed in bringing more residents downtown to live and shop.

On a final note, I would like to invite all of our residents to take part in a special community prayer event, which will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 5 at the Scottish Rite Center, 431 W. Berry Street.

“Prayers for the City – A Celebration of One Community, Many Faiths” is free and open to the public. The event will feature prayers, singing, dances, and readings.

The idea for this event was developed in my conversations with Rev. Dr. Terry Anderson, of the Interfaith Hospitality Network; Amir J. Tamir Rasheed, of the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne; and Dr. Michael Spath, of IPFW. We felt that our city could benefit from joining in community prayer and sharing in conversations that will give us a greater understanding and appreciation for different faiths.

Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item. The donated items will be shared with Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana and the food bank at the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County.