FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Tuesday, the Fort Wayne Common Council unanimously introduced a resolution that would start the investigation into the termination of the Electric Works contract.
The presentation portion of the meeting discussing public funding lasted nearly three hours. Not much was settled but with the passing of the resolution, council is hoping to make progress.
RTM Ventures was the first at the podium. They continued to explain that they have everything they need to keep the deal going. According to RTM developer Kevan Biggs, all the developers need is the $62 million dollars of public funding that the redevelopment commission terminated.
“I think council’s initiative to try and get true answers and understand what happened is overwhelming what we are hearing from the public and the business community,” Biggs said. “How can we get to the bottom of what happened, how can we get back into the agreement to move this project forward.”
Councilman Geoff Paddock, (5th-District) mentioned during the meeting that a petition was submitted with over 2000 signatures in support of Electric Works.
Following RTM’s presentation, the City’s Attorney Timothy Haffner, Community Development Director Nancy Townsend, and Redevelopment Commission’s President Christopher Guerin presented their case.
Haffner said Fort Wayne has never spent so much time and so many resources to a project, especially one with a private developer. Townsend agreed.
“It’s proven to be that the private financial market is too much for our market,” said Townsend. She added that the vision isn’t too big but she believes the project is to big. She told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that Fort Wayne has had large projects before, such as Promenade Park, but those projects were done in increments.
“Harrison Square was a fraction of the size, and a fraction of the cost and it took eleven years,” Townsend said.
During the city development’s presentation they suggested that the city moves forward with other partners. This drew questions from council members. Councilman Geoff Paddock , who represents the district of the location for Electric Works, didn’t understand the purpose of starting over with another developer. Tom Didier and Sharon Tucker vocally shared the same concern.
‘There is no other development group that understands this project better than RTM Ventures,” said Biggs. “We spent the last four and a half years putting this project together. I think we have proven that we have the capability and the expertise based on where we are today with all of the funding elements put into place.”
Townsend said that the future of this deal doesn’t have to be without RTM, but she thinks everyone would benefit by having another developer with guidance and financial support. She emphasized the the canceling of the EDA was done in the interest of protecting millions of dollars of public funds.
This resolution was prompted after the termination on Aug. 3 during the city’s Redevelopment Commission meeting. Veteran council members Tom Didier and Glynn Hines introduced the resolution to start the investigation process to get to the bottom of what happened with the EDA termination.