On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Downtown Improvement District, I’m very pleased to present this annual report for 2021. As we enter the second full year of COVID-19, many things about Downtown Fort Wayne continue to adapt. Work from home has blurred the lines from our traditional 9-5, Monday through Friday workweek. This has been accompanied by a huge upsurge in the desire of people to get away from home and interact with friends and family “after work” and during the weekend. This has created a new dynamic for Downtown and created unbelievably vibrant sidewalks and streets during those off-work hours.
We have been able to return to most of our large-scale events like Fright Night and HolidayFest featuring the Night of Lights during 2021 while responding to the desire for more frequent small-scale events like Downtown Live! New in 2021, Downtown Live! brought one of the many talented local bands to Downtown every Friday and Saturday night in June, July, and August.
As you’ll see in subsequent graphics, the attendance and economic impact were fantastic. Also new in 2021, an expanded partnership with the City of Fort Wayne and our gateway business corridors. This brought new funding resources to expand our Clean & Green team and bring their services to business corridors leading into Downtown Fort Wayne. This program also allowed us to increase the services of Clean & Green in our Downtown core from five days a week to six. Both of these programs will continue in 2022. Also new in 2021, an expanded emphasis on creating and programming our public realm spaces. Using CARES Act dollars from 2020 as well as 2021 resources, we were able to not only return and improve the Porch Off Calhoun but bring new spaces to life like the PNC Plaza on Main Street, parklets on Lewis and Wayne Streets, and increased public dining options in the Double Plus alley network.
A quick note about financial performance in 2021: we show our budget in the red for the first time in many years. This is due to three factors; a lean budget that maximized our resources to deliver new and expanded programs to Downtown, the unusual occurrence of 27 payrolls (instead of the usual 26), and an unexpected depreciation charge on office improvements. These last two have a minimal long-term effect on our budget and will not be repeated in 2022.
I’m incredibly proud of the work done by the Downtown Fort Wayne team during 2021, look forward to new projects and programs in 2022, and am incredibly enthusiastic about the future of Downtown Fort Wayne.