State confirms Electric Works ‘close’ to signing major tenant; pledges project ongoing support

Mayor Tom Henry, right, with Electric Works developers Kevan Biggs, left, and Josh Parker. COVID-19 is creating uncertainty for a project that was exuding confidence just a few months ago. (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)
Jim Schellinger

Electric works is indeed “close to finalizing terms with an anchor tenant,” Indiana’s secretary of commerce has confirmed in a letter to local officials that also reiterates the state’s ongoing commitment to the $230 million project.

“While attracting companies from outside of Indiana is critical to the state’s economic development efforts, it is equally important to support the expansion of Indiana’s businesses and to encourage the transformation of Indiana’s communities into places that retain and attract the talent that today’s businesses need,” Jim Schellinger wrote in a Feb. 3 to city Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend and others. “We are committed to taking Indiana to the next level, making transformative investments in infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurship, and quality of place with the support of local communities, regional organizations and businesses alike. These public-private partnerships, such as the planned Electric Works redevelopment in Fort Wayne, help propel our efforts to encourage revitalization, foster innovation and ensure Indiana is a hub for 21st century talent.”

Schellinger, who is working with Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to attract the still-unnamed anchor tenant, noted that the IEDC in 2018 made one of its largest commitments of Industrial Recovery Tax Credits for a single project, awarding $50 million in conditional tax credits to RTM Ventures to support the planned redevelopment of the former GE campus.

As The News-Sentinel first reported last month, RTM Ventures says it has secured a letter of intent from a company wanting to locate its headquarters in 200,000 square feet of the project. Completion of such a lease would be crucial, because RTM’s development with the city requires it to have 250,000 square feet leased leased, along with certain private financial commitments, by Feb. 1. The corporate headquarters brings the space covered by various letters of intent to 415,068 square feet, said Parker, who called the anchor tenant a “game changer.”

But attraction of such a large tenant requires some changes to RTM’s plans — work that could not be completed by Feb. 1. So RTM has requested the deadline for leasing, funding and construction documents back to April 30, and to June 30 for closing. That would give RTM the time it needs to do such things as provide more office space by eliminating 60 planned residential units, Parker said. Mayor Tom Henry said last week he supports the extension, which must be approved various local entities that have pledged a total of $65 million in public funds for the project.

Schellinger said the state has worked with RTM “to aggressively market Fort Wayne and the Northeast Indiana region to businesses across the globe and to help identify tenants to lease space at Electric Works . . . I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of RTM’s request to extend its economic development agreement.”

Developers say construction could begin later this year.


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