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UPDATED: Electric Works gets extension from city; adds another agricultural technology tenant

(Courtesy image)

Electric Works developers on Monday got the first of three extensions they’ll need from officials who pledged a total of $65 million in public funds for the project, which also announced its latest tenant.

Ratifying an approval announced last week by Mayor Tom Henry, the city Redevelopment Commission agreed to extend the deadline for securing all necessary financing commitments to Feb. 1. The original deadline under RTM’s deal with the city was July 1 of this year, but developers the temporary shut down of the federal government earlier this year delayed processing of tax credits essential to the $230 million redevelopment of the former General Electric campus.

The County Commissioners and Capital Improvement Board must also approve extension.

RTM is also required to have at lease 250,000 square feet under lease, and partner Jeff Kingsbury told the commission Monday commitments have been signed for slightly more than that amount, including 31,129 square feet for tenants new to Allen County. Of the tenants signed to date, about 33 percent are in professional services, 16 percent in technology, 10 percent in research and development, 16 percent in education and 9 percent in retail.

“People need to understand this is an incredibly complex deal, with a lot of moving parts,” Commission President Christopher Guerin said.

Earlier Monday, Muncie-based agriculture technology firm Balance Holdings Inc. announced its intent to locate one of its patented Environmentally Controlled Sustainable Integrated Agriculture (ECSIA) systems at Electric Works. The ECSIA system combines Commercial Regenerative Agriculture with raising fish and crayfish in tanks to grow the most nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables available for their “prescribed” food prescription plan, consumer and commercial sales on-site at Electric Works and throughout the region.

ECSIA’s zero-waste, closed-loop system uses 1 percent of the water needed for traditional agriculture and less than 20 percent used in hydroponics. The system mineralizes waste from the fish to make nutrient-rich water, which then flows into troughs to feed growing fruits and vegetables. The plants also filter the water, which is cycled back to the fish tanks.

“For ECSIA, growing better food is more than just putting a better tomato into the grocery store — it’s about growing a better future for our children,” company founder Glynn Barber said in statement. “We believe healthier food produces healthier people which produce healthier communities, and we see an exciting and unique opportunity for ECSIA to make a profound impact on this community, partnering with healthcare providers and higher education institutions at Electric Works.”

To date, more than 300 varieties of fruits and vegetables have been used with the ESCIA system. ECSIA systems are currently operating in East Chicago, Elkhart and Wapahani, Ind., as well as in Waco, Texas and Haiti.

This is the second tenant announcement for Electric Works featuring an agricultural-technology company in two weeks. Last week, it announced that Sweetwater Urban Farms, which utilizes aeroponic technology to produce nutrient-rich greens and herbs, will locate an operation at Electric Works.

Electric Works is a mixed-use district planned on the former General Eletric campus and is a public/private partnership between RTM Ventures and the city of Fort Wayne. Electric Works includes 39 acres, 18 historic buildings and more than 1.2 million square feet of space for office, educational, innovation, retail, residential, hotel and entertainment uses.

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