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Electric Works receives key support for deal extension; Capital Improvement Board and county next

The City's Redevelopment Commission has agreed to give developers of Electric Works more time. (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)

Despite an attempt to delay the vote pending Thursday’s planned identification its anchor tenant, Electric Works’ developers Monday won approval of the extension they say is needed to move the $230 million project forward.

By a 3-2 vote, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved amending the development agreement between the city and RTM development that had required certain financial and leasing commitments to be met by Feb. 1. Now, in the third extension of the deal, the deadline for leasing, funding and construction documents has been pushed back to April 30, and to June 30 for closing. Developers say the extra time is critical to finalize an agreement with an anchor tenant that, as The News-Sentinel first reported, has signed a letter of intent to occupy about 200,000 square feet of the former General Electric campus.

But as The News-Sentinel reported Saturday, there are indications that international hardware wholesaler Do it Best — currently headquartered in New Haven — could be that tenant. And that possibility appeared to concern commission member and City Councilman Jason Arp, who questioned whether the amended deal still requires a certain percentage of Electric Works tenants to be new to the area.

Informed that the deal still emphasizes the desire for tenants new to the area or expanding within the area, Arp made a motion to delay a vote until the anchor tenant is identified. New Commission member Nathan Hartman agreed, but members Christopher Guerin, Mark Becker and Greg Leatherman voted in favor of the extension.

“The merits (of the extension) don’t rely exclusively on the anchor,” city Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend told the commission prior to the vote. “We recommend approval regardless of (Thursday’s) announcement.”

“We’re grateful to the commission,” RTM’s Jeff Kingsbury said after the vote. “There’s been great interest in the property.”

Local governments have pledged $65 million toward the project, which will not be made available until the developers comply with terms of the agreement with the city. The Capital Improvement Board will consider the extension Wednesday, with the Allen County Commissioners weighing in as soon as Friday.

Developers and local officials have declined to identify the anchor tenant, citing a confidentiality agreement. But RTM’s Josh Parker told the News-Sentinel last month the corporate headquarters would be a “game changer” for the project, bringing the space covered by various letters of intent to 415,068 square feet.

Mayor Tom Henry has also endorsed the extension, and Kinsgbury said he does not believe another amendment to the development agreement will be necessary.

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