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Historic Fort Wayne Strategic Planning Process


Made possible by the National Park Foundation with the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, the City of Detroit General Services Department is undertaking a comprehensive strategic planning process for Historic Fort Wayne. This ongoing project seeks to improve recreational, cultural, and educational opportunities for residents of Southwest Detroit and the region by revitalizing Historic Fort Wayne.

As part of this planning process, we are considering interventions including expanding park hours and recreational programming, stabilization of vacant buildings, solicitation of support and guidance from public, private, and nonprofit partners, and finally, finding new and compatible uses for presently vacant buildings at Historic Fort Wayne.

For questions about the planning process, please contact Juliana Fulton at 313-628-2363.

June 18, 2020, City Planning Commission Public Hearing

Adaptive use of vacant buildings at Historic Fort Wayne will require a zoning change. The General Services Department has proposed a rezoning of Historic Fort Wayne from its present zoning of R1: Single-family Residential to a proposed new classification of PD: Planned Development District. A final decision regarding this rezoning will be made by the Detroit City Council upon recommendation of the City Planning Commission.

After the City Planning Commission meeting, another public hearing opportunity will be held at the Detroit City Council. The date, time, and location of these events will be posted here on this page as well as shared via email to interested community organizations and anyone who signed in at our previous community meetings.

This meeting will be conducted remotely. For instructions on how to attend via video or phone, please click here to view the City Planning Commission public hearing notice.

March 19, 2020, City Planning Commission Public Hearing (POSTPONED)

Following recent state and federal recommendations regarding COVID-19, a public hearing at the City Planning Commission has been postponed until June 18, 2020.

March 16, 2020 City Planning Commission staff report

September 26, 2019 Tour and Feedback Event

Thank you for making our Historic Fort Wayne tour and feedback session a success!

The City of Detroit General Services Department hosted a tour, informational meeting, and feedback session on September 26, 2019, at Historic Fort Wayne. Over 70 community members and stakeholders were present.

Attendees were greeted upon arrival by city staff, who led a series of small group tours highlighting the opportunities and challenges of Historic Fort Wayne. Afterwards, a meeting in the Visitors Center building began with presentations by city staff.

GSD staff described the rich history and significance of Historic Fort Wayne, and discussed the objectives of the current planning process—to enhance equity of access and recreational opportunity at Historic Fort Wayne, and facilitate the preservation of historic buildings through adaptive use.

After the staff presentation, smaller breakout tables focused on five different areas. Attendees were provided with maps and a chart, highlighting ideas and suggested uses for each area, based on input from prior community meetings and engagement. Participants provided feedback via stickers (stars representing “like,” squares representing “dislike”) and written comments, shown below by category:

Table 1: Star Fort and Burial Mound


County Park/Metropark/State Park/National Park (30 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Would like to see all organizations involved, need leadership structure
  •     Star fort is in excellent condition, proximate to ingress/egress; cede to National Park Service

Preserve and interpret burial mound (29 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Make sure the Tribes direct and benefit from this awesome idea
  •     Redesign fencing to limit access but increase visual appeal
  •     Extend burial mound
  •     Give burial mound and star fort back to Tribes

Event Rental (17 likes, 5 dislikes)

  •     Wear and tear, unless more money is put in
  •     Would be okay if it was truly revenue generating and didn’t impact the historic fort or mound

Hospitality (5 likes, 17 dislikes)

  •     Bed and breakfast in historic houses would be very good
  •     If there is a hotel you don’t know who will stay there; should be a place to visit, not spend the night


  •     Native plants, wooded paths
  •     Fort is the focal point of the whole site; story needs to be told

Table 2: Officers Row and NCO Row



Demolish buildings in poor condition (1 like, 26 dislikes)

  •     Some are beyond repair
  •     New roofs, painting, would quickly clean up the buildings

Museums/cultural center (16 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     One building for each era
  •     period farming

Art studios/workshops/business incubator (15 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Local art gallery
  •     Something like Techtown

Education/skills training (15 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Skills training with veterans to restore buildings
  •     Period skills (candle making, ironwork, quilts)
  •     Provide art skill activities (ironwork, blacksmith shop)

Housing/residential (6 likes, 9 dislikes)

  •     Private housing
  •     High priced condominiums with a private marina

Small-scale retail/shops (3 likes, 9 dislikes)

  •     Could be artisan or historic, not general utility

Lodging (6 likes, 5 dislikes)

  •     Group educational retreats or cruises. Possibly weddings or other events if not priced to only serve high end

Open space/parking (0 likes, 11 dislikes)

  •     No parking!
  •     So much of Detroit is parking already! Keep that Mackinac Island feeling

Event rental (8 likes, 1 dislike)

  •     Who is going to clean up afterward?


  •     Make this place dog friendly!
  •     Rotating outdoor sculptures by Michigan sculptors

Table 3: Warehouses, Theater, Guard House, and Cram Street Buildings


Preserve/activate historic buildings (16 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Allow small businesses to restore buildings and get a lease
  •     Offer housing for veterans in exchange for training and rehab
  •     Generate revenue by allowing small retail or ice cream shops to rehab buildings
  •     Using some of these buildings to generate income seems essential for sustainable development without burdening the city; let people make money,     B&Bs seem like an excellent idea
  •     Would like to see universities, city, NPS, and other

Theater (19 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Outdoor movies in summer, indoor in winter

Housing/residential (8 likes, 7 dislikes)

  •     High cost; considerable zoning, code, safety, and access issues
  •     Residential mix=neighborhood watch
  •     Housing might be better, if at all, along the Jefferson buildings; veterans opportunity, seniors, university, special projects

Food service/cafe/restaurant/brewery (10 likes, 2 dislikes)

  •     Historic and cultural food (a bakery was once here)

Art studios/workshops/business incubator (8 likes, 1 dislike)

  •     Yes, bring in many tourists

Table 4: Parade Ground and Riverfront



Interpret Native American history (29 likes, 1 dislike)

  •     Make sure actual Native people benefit
  •     Give parade ground back to the Tribes

Campground (5 likes, 15 dislikes)

  •     Self-contained camper parking
  •     Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
  •     No actual campground but yes to keeping Scouts and educational camping events

River walk/boardwalk (18 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Natural habitat, not concerts like downtown
  •     Not connected to RiverWalk

Festivals, concerts, art fairs (17 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Leave riverfront natural, no concerts

Sports (soccer, baseball, frisbee) (12 likes, 5 dislikes)

  •     Use fill land for sports and concerts, not burial ground

Community gardens (8 likes, 2 dislikes)

  •     Victory Garden

Kayak launch (8 likes, 5 dislikes)

  •     Kayak launch, no rental, no motorboats

Public art/sculpture/fountains (10 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Removable yes, permanent no

Seating or amphitheater (3 likes, 7 dislikes)

  •     Removable yes, permanent no

Food vendors/food trucks (3 likes, 4 dislikes)

  •     Only for events


  •     Grant home
  •     Riverfront restaurant
  •     Garbage and recycle bins

Table 5: Connectivity


Connect to City of River Rouge (4 likes, 14 dislikes)

  •     Connect to downriver bike trails

Partner with neighbors (18 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Partner with human neighbors, not just institutions
  •     Michigan Welcome Center

DDOT, SMART, Transit Windsor bus service (11 likes, 0 dislikes)

  •     Yes please! Public transit = public access

Water Taxi (9 likes, 3 dislikes)

  •     Taxi across river to Sandwich windmill
  •     Wonderful way to connect Fort Wayne

Extend operating hours (9 likes, 1 dislike)

  •     Better promote hours so everyone knows when they can go
  •     Encourage school field trips

Improve parking (3 likes, 3 dislikes)

  •     Do not park on Native ground during events


  •     Detroit River Heritage Water Trail
  •     Dock for Diamond Jack, river traffic

July 14, 2015 Community Meeting: The Future of Historic Fort Wayne

Hosted by the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, State Representative Stephanie Chang, and Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, a July 14, 2015 meeting at the Historic Fort Wayne Visitors Center brainstormed ideas for the future of Historic Fort Wayne. Special guests and local and national land use and urban development experts HR&A Advisors & Hamilton Anderson Associates, contracted by the State of Michigan, were on hand to facilitate an interactive discussion.

2015 community workshop maps