The North Buffalo Street project is the culmination of sixteen years of community visioning, planning, and collaboration. While there have been many moving pieces, the key influences are described below.
In 2002, the “Warsaw Downtown Action Agenda 2002” was developed by a large group of residents, downtown merchants, local leaders, and stakeholders to evaluate declining downtowns and create an achievable plan to revitalize Warsaw’s downtown. One significant strategy from this agenda was to “physically and economically connect our downtown to Center Lake” by converting Buffalo Street, between Fort Wayne Street and Center Lake, into a pedestrian link.
In 2009, a boulevard concept that addressed the link to downtown was drawn that included commercial shops and a new city hall on the water company property.
One of the biggest influences was the “Imagine Warsaw” community visioning charette with Ball State in 2013. More than 200 community members participated in a week-long intense visioning workshop that looked at ideas, drawings, public feedback, and development. The North Buffalo Street was a popular topic in the charette.
In 2015, the City took advantage of an opportunity in Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district legislation to fund the infrastructure for the project, including sanitary sewer, storm water drains, gas lines, and electric service.
In 2016, the City, along with the developer, presented this project to the Northeast Indiana Redevelopment Authority and was awarded three and a half million dollars of Regional Cities funding. These funds are leveraged by the developer’s investment in housing and mixed-use building space.
The North Buffalo Street project will have a transformative impact on the residential and commercial vibrancy of downtown Warsaw.
Infrastructure work is currently under way. Once that is completed, new street and curb construction will occur. After the City’s portion of the infrastructure is in place, the developer will begin construction of new town homes and mews on the west side of the street, with the first residence anticipated to be ready for occupancy in 2019.