FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In what could be the biggest week for the transformation of the old General Electric campus, votes have started to approve extending a key funding deadline and an anchor tenant is set to be revealed.
Securing a major tenant
While a list of businesses and schools have signed letters of intent to lease space in the Electric Works campus along Broadway, a large, main tenant has been needed to make the project successful. Developers RTM Ventures announced in January that the anchor tenant had been secured, which would bring hundreds of people to the complex on a daily basis.
The company is set to be revealed Thursday afternoon. State and regional leaders are expected to be at the announcement.
According to a monthly update on the project, shared in January, letters of intent or lease commitments have been made for 100,000 square feet of the campus. That number includes 25,000 square feet for business “new to or creating jobs in Allen County.”
The plan also includes 91,000 square feet of space dedicated to the expansion of an Allen County based business and 231,000 square feet of relocation or retention of a county business.
Despite rumors flying around the community, city leaders have been tight lipped about what company will be the anchor tenant. Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend confirmed the existence of a Non Disclosure Agreement to the Redevelopment Commission.
Among local companies who have signed letters of intent to lease space in Electric Works: Parkview, Joseph Decuis, Conjure Coffee, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Spherion Staffing, Rush Rock Gym, Fort Wayne Metals, Fort Wayne Community Schools and Indiana Tech. Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. and a high-tech greenhouse in the farmers market are also on the list.
Leaders of local music festival Middle Waves also announced the 2020 edition of the the event would be held on the east campus. The discussions of funding are focused on the campus west of Broadway.
Clearing hurdles: Several votes taken, planned
The announcement of the anchor tenant came days before a funding deadline developers had to meet to secure public funding for the project. According to developer partner Jeff Kingsbury, that deadline needed to be extended to work out final details for the large company and the other groups planning on leasing space.
On Monday, the city Redevelopment Commission took the first vote in the process, approving pushing back the deadline. The date moves from February 1 to April 30. The developers have to close on the land by June 30. City Councilman Jason Arp attempted to table the decision on funding until after the tenant is revealed.
A similar vote is expected to be taken by the Capital Improvement Board Wednesday morning. C.I.B. member told WANE 15 he would likely vote to approve moving the deadline. Noting hundreds of jobs being on the line, Tim Pape said “why wouldn’t we?”
On the eve of the expired deadline, Mayor Tom Henry released a statement.
“I continue to be optimistic that we’re going to be able to make Electric Works a reality. The local public funding partners remain committed to working with RTM Ventures to see the project happen and succeed while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Mayor Henry. “I’m also encouraged that a potential anchor tenant has been identified. Our community recognizes that large projects are complex and time consuming but are important to help ensure local and regional success.”
In December, Henry talked with WANE 15 about the possibility of the project failing.
“Well, I think it’s a situation where Fort Wayne has stepped up and said, you know, we’ve got some possibilities in this community, not every initiative succeeds. ” the mayor said. “Did we do a significant amount of due diligence? Yes. And I’ll accept that, because we’re talking about $65 million.”
Allen County commissioners are also a part of the process, facing a vote to extend the deadline as well. Nelson Peters told WANE 15 he would vote to approve it as long as the extension is “within reason.” Therese Brown and Rich Beck agreed, saying it’s likely they would approve the motion.
Electric Works: A timeline
- May, 2017 – Electric Works is pitched at a Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. meeting.
- September, 2017 – RTM acquires campus from General Electric.
- November, 2017 – Electric Works hosts first event.
- February, 2018 – City Council considers public funding request.
- February, 2018 – Developer says 50% of pre-leasing goals are met.
- April, 2018 – County commissioners commit $1 million.
- April, 2018 – Neighborhood supports the project.
- May, 2018 – Market study revealed.
- June, 2018 – City pledges $62 million.
- August, 2018 – Original Economic Development Agreement announced.
- September, 2018 – Redevelopment Commission approves agreement.
- October, 2018 – County commissioners approve $3.5 million in funds.
- October, 2018 – City Council votes on Legacy and CEDIT funds.
- November, 2018 – Capital Improvement Board agrees to funding.
- March, 2019 – Deadline extension requested.
- April, 2019 – C.I.B. approves deadline extension.
- June, 2019 – Developers anticipate closing by November.
- August, 2019 – WANE 15 gets update on cleaning on campus.
- September, 2019 – Pre-leasing hits 250,000 sq ft goal.
- November, 2019 – Commissioners make final vote on approving deadline extension.
- November, 2019 – New funding request denied.
- January, 2020 – Anchor tenant secured, funding extension needed.