City of Detroit seeks to Revitalize Historic Fort Wayne


The City of Detroit’s General Services Department, Parks & Recreation Division is seeking public or private partners, including nonprofit, for-profit, governmental or quasi-governmental agencies and educational institutions with a vision to help revitalize and activate Historic Fort Wayne. The city has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking responses from entities able to rehabilitate and occupy or operate one or more presently vacant buildings at the riverfront site.

Historic Fort Wayne sits in the city’s Delray neighborhood in what will soon be a prominent, high-visibility location, adjacent to the future site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge entrance which broadens potential for the site to serve as a gateway to Detroit and the region.

In the future, General Services Department plans to facilitate greater access to the property, exploring steps to open the site on a regular or daily basis and broaden its appeal to Detroit residents and regional visitors with enhanced opportunities for active and passive recreation and historical interpretation. This may include increased City of Detroit investment at Historic Fort Wayne or partnership with other governmental agencies or private or philanthropic entities.

“It’s very important to us – due to all the feedback we’ve gotten from the community over the past few years – to preserve as many of these historic buildings as possible, “said Meagan Elliott, chief parks planner, Detroit General Services Department.

By the end of 2020, the General Services Department intends to increase the Historic Fort Wayne hours of operation to facilitate regular public visitation as a city park. At present, public access is limited to organized events and weekend tours during the summer season. The RFI describes a “rehabilitation in leiu of rent” model, in which third parties make up-front upgrades to a historic building prior to occupancy. In return, they may occupy the building for a specified number of years – determined by the level of initial investment required. City officials studied this model and its successful use in other major cities. The RFI process is part of a strategic planning initiative, funded by the National Park Foundation and supported by the Kresge Foundation.

From 2018-2019, Historic Fort Wayne saw 31,113 visitors and hosted 3,000 events.


Property Details
The City of Detroit acquired Historic Fort Wayne in three phases in 1949, 1971, and 1976, through two public benefit conveyance programs for surplus federal property administered by the National Park Service. Historic Fort Wayne was operated for a time as the Fort Wayne Military Museum and is now managed by the City of Detroit General Services Department, Parks and Recreation Division. A former United States military reservation, Historic Fort Wayne comprises a rich and historically significant built environment. The site features, in addition to its namesake masonry star fort (the only such structure remaining in the Midwest), almost 40 historic structures of varying scales, time periods, and condition, as well as open spaces including a quarter-mile of riverfront access and a historic “parade ground” area now used as athletic fields. A Native American burial mound, dating from around 750–1150, is part of the property and is fenced off from public access.


Important Dates
Entities interested in responding to this RFI may attend a walkthrough to be held at Historic Fort Wayne on February 24, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. A presentation will be made by City of Detroit officials highlighting the site’s planning history and the community vision for the area.

  • Walkthrough/tour: February 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m. RSVP is encouraged to [email protected].
  • Question Deadline: February 25, 2020, 11:00 a.m.
  • Submission Deadline: March 10, 2020, 11:00 a.m.

Additional information is available at Submissions are due on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 by 11:00 am. For more information, contact [email protected].