Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approves development agreement for Electric Works

The Electric Works project now has the $65 million in public funds developers said they need to redevelop the former GE campus. (Courtesy photo)

The Electric Works took a big step forward Monday as the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission ratified a development agreement that will serve as the framework for $62 million in anticipated local funding for the $220 million project.

Monday’s 4-1 vote committed no money for the redevelopment of the former General Electric campus but does clear the way for developer RTM Ventures to seek funds from other government bodies, including $45 million in food and beverage taxes from the Capital Improvement Board; $10 million from the city’s Legacy fund, which requires the approval of at least six City Council members; and a total of $7 million in local income taxes from the city and county. Those agreement anticipates approaching those sources within 60 to 90 days.

Mayor Tom Henry released a preliminary draft of the development agreement in June, and he and RTM announced last month they had reached an agreement that includes city approval of environmental conditions at the former General Electric campus; evidence RTM can complete phase one of the project within the terms stated in the agreement; city approval of commitments to lease a minimum of 250,000 square feet; and city approval of studies showing a market demand for the project’s offices, apartments, shops and other features.

More than 20 drafts of the agreement were prepared before the final language was set, Commission President Christopher Guerin noted Monday. “They had to get this right,” he said.

Guerin also noted no public money will be committed to the project until all private sources are also in place.

“I’ve been humbled by the level of public support for the project,” RTM’s Jeff Kingsbury told the commission prior to approval of he deal, which was opposed by Jason Arp, who is also a City Council member representing the 4th District and usually opposes publicly funded economic development projects. The project has already received a $3 million loan from the Allen County Commissioners and Capital Improvement Board (CIB) for environmental clean up. Electric Works includes 39 acres, 18 historic buildings and more than 1.2 million square feet of space.