Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry’s office June 26 said it has granted a fifth and final extension to the developers of the Electric Works project.
The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and RTM Ventures, the developer for the Electric Works project, have an economic development agreement in place dating back to September 2018 that specifies requirements that must be achieved for the project to move forward. Those included certain leasing and financing obligations.
RTM Ventures now has an extra month, until July 30, to secure financing and until Sept. 30 to close on the the transaction, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
The project is a major economic development driver for the city. The public/private partnership will redevelop the west side of the former General Electric complex at 1030 Swinney Ave. off Broadway, to create more than 1.2 million square feet of space for office, educational, innovation, retail, residential and entertainment uses. In addition to the eventual 1,500 permanent jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000 and a $300 million economic impact, it would create 2,400 construction jobs for Fort Wayne over about two years, according to the developers.
“Due to more work needing to be done by the development team to finalize private financing, secure tenants, and meet other agreement thresholds, a fifth extension of 30 days has been granted in an effort to help keep the proposed project moving forward,” according to the news release. “The new milestone dates are July 30, 2020 for financing commitments to be met and October 30, 2020 for the closing on the transaction. The new timeline represents the final extension that will be granted by the City of Fort Wayne.”
“The new extension is a good faith effort to give RTM Ventures an additional month to meet the requirements needed the complete this kind of project,” Henry said in the release. “It’s critical to give our funding partners and taxpayers comfort that local dollars are being used wisely and are protected.”
A letter has been sent to RTM Ventures outlining the required terms. A copy of the letter is attached to this story.
RTM Ventures has sought past extensions that most recently included federal funding delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic as government agencies shut down for weeks. Kevan Biggs, of RTM Ventures, told Fort Wayne City Council members June 23 that the project received a $62 million loan facility June 22. That came a month after news that the COVID-19-delayed Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program had awarded the project an estimated $34 million. Some buildings in the complex date back to 1893 when the Fort Wayne Electric Company began operations there. General Electric eventually bought the company and made electrical motors and electrical transformers, providing thousands of Fort Wayne jobs during the boon World War II years. GE eventually closed operations there and the buildings sat empty in 2015.
About a quarter of the project’s funding, 26.1% or $65 million, is coming from the city and Allen County, which includes tax increment financing, the food and beverage tax administered by the Capital Improvement Board and the city’s Legacy Fund, created from a $39.2 million settlement with Indiana Michigan Power to sell its former electric utility and the rights to all former customers. The money won’t be released until the developers have met all the conditions of the economic development agreement and the closing takes place.
RTM has secured tenancy agreements from a variety of groups. In February, Do It Best Corp. announced it would move its headquarters into 200,000 square feet or more at Electric Works, making it the anchor tenant. Fort Wayne Community Schools has a 10-year lease for the development of a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) high school there. Parkview Health announced plans to build a health care clinic. Fort Wayne Metals signed a letter of intent for research and development operations. Several other tenants has also signed up for space.