Fort Wayne emerges as civic test case for Amarillo

Fort Wayne, Ind., is home to roughly 253,000 individuals.

Amarillo’s population is just a shade less than 200,000.

Fort Wayne has developed a downtown convention and entertainment district that includes — get ready for it — a multipurpose event venue.

Amarillo wants to re-create its downtown district into something quite similar.

http://amarillo.com/news/latest-news/2015-07-18/can-it-work-here

An article in the Amarillo Globe-New by my old pal Jon Mark Beilue asks whether a Fort Wayne-style plan can work in Amarillo.

I continue to see the Amarillo proposal as a net positive for the city that could turn into a spectacular positive.

Fort Wayne has made it happen, despite some serious push back as plans were being formulated. Interesting, when you consider the resistance that has developed here over a plan that looks for all the world — to many of us, at least — like a prescription for revival.

Beilue makes an important point in comparing what Amarillo wants to do with what Fort Wayne has accomplished. The cities are comparable in size. He notes the huge disparity in population between Amarillo and, say, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, which also have enjoyed spectacular downtown revivals. He writes: “Its (Fort Wayne’s) metro area is 416,800, about 165,000 more than Amarillo. That’s not apples to apples, but is a more realistic comparison than to the major cities of Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, which have undergone large-scale downtown transformations.”

Beilue then writes: “’We came together as a community and came up with something really valuable for economic development, for downtown development and a way to retain and gain jobs,’ said Graham Richard, who was Fort Wayne’s mayor when the project was approved.”

Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp? Some folks here — and I have not accepted the idea that they comprise a majority of our population — keep looking for reasons to oppose the project.

The MPEV won’t work. The city needs to expand the Civic Center. Too many palms are being greased. It’s going to cost taxpayers a fortune.

That’s a sample of the kind of thing we keep hearing.

Are this city’s residents so uniquely contrarian that we simply refuse to fathom a future that looks radically different from our past?

Take a good look at the article attached to this blog post.

It’s enlightening.

My own takeaway is pretty straightforward: If a city such as Fort Wayne, Ind., which doesn’t seem to have that much more to offer than Amarillo can remake itself, then what in the world is stopping us from marching toward a brighter future?

Leave a Reply