The Legacy Joint Funding Committee supported $1 million for Bridge of Grace while rejecting a $546,000 request from the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research.
Both projects had been fast-tracked in the process, coming directly from the mayor's office instead of going through the concept letter phase, and moved to the application phase.
The Legacy Fund, which is currently $36-$37 million, comes from a $39.2 million settlement with Indiana Michigan Power to sell its former electric utility and the rights to all former customers. Mayor Tom Henry created a Legacy task force in 2011 in decide how the money should be sent. The group decided that applicants must fall in the following categories:
• 21st Century Talent (education, training, workforce development)
• Economic Development (retaining, growing, and attracting business)
• Entrepreneurship (new/start-up businesses, venture capital)
• Infrastructure (services and facilities that support economic development)
• Quality of Life (arts and cultural resources, community amenities, aesthetics)
• Core Economic Investments – Business Attraction and Retention and Strategic Infrastructure
• Downtown and Riverfront Development
• Youth/Prep Sports Initiative
The Legacy Joint Funding Committee follows a scoring system to decide if it will pass along the application to City Council for final approval.
Chairman Ron Turpin explained that the projects are scored 0-5 on four elements:
• Transformational outcome
• Leveraging investment from the private sector
• Is it a catalyst for additional development
• One of the main seven items previously listed that were set by the task force.
Applications that score 3 and above are recommended to council for consideration.
Bridge of Grace scored 4.3 and the six of the nine Legacy commission members in attendance at Nov. 16's meeting in Citizens Square voted to send the application to council.
Bridge of Grace, 5100 Gaywood Ave., is seeking the money for its HOPE (Housing, Opportunity, Progress and Education) Unleashed capital campaign to build an early childhood development center adjacent to its location, according to its application.
The campaign started in February with the aim of raising $19 million "to cultivate home ownership, implement economic development tactics, revitalize our neighborhood with a clinic and renovated park, and build a high-quality, inclusive early childhood development center," as stated in the application.
The center will be for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and also will have a community health clinic along with Bridge of Grace offices and community space.
Bridge of Grace services roughly 1,500 residents in 550 households in southeast Fort Wayne's Mount Vernon Neighborhood Association. About 80%-90% of those residents are at or below the low-income level.
The entire capital campaign will fund:
Housing: $1.5 million for the purchase of 25-30 homes
Opportunity: $1 million for buying commercial property
Progress: $500,000 for renovations to Brewster Park at Pettit and Weisser avenues
Education: $16 million for the center
The goal is to break ground on the center in February or March with an opening in May or June 2024.
Although the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research inside the Allen County Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne failed to achieve a passing score, the board voted to reopen the application for reconsideration.
Curt Witcher, manager of the library's genealogy center, explained how visitors to the center can use the latest technology to explore 500 images related to the 16th president's life, some of which can be projected on three walls, or allow users to look closely at the sculptor's work on a bust of Lincoln's head. Since opening June 10, the center has had 17,837 visitors.
Because the library is known nationwide for its genealogy center, about 10%-20% of those visitors will automatically head to the Rolland Center, and PBS plans a TV special on the center next year, which will go nationwide, he said. As COVID-19 fades into the past, Witcher said he expects visitor numbers to grow, as, in addition to field trips, staff go into schools.
However, the Legacy committee voted 4-2 against passing the project on to council.