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Electric Works On Track To Meet Closing Deadline

Electric Works

In a major update to Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday night, the development partners behind the Electric Works project at the old General Electric campus announced its $62 million loan was approved, and the project is on track to close on September 30.

Kevan Biggs is part of the leadership team on the project. He says the commitment from Do-It-Best Corp. as an anchor tenant and underwriting help from Goldman Sachs in January and February put the Electric Works project on a smooth road to its closing date.

But, the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in much of that progress.

“Goldman shut down their investment committee in late March and hasn’t reopened since," Biggs said. "Nevertheless, over the past several months we’ve remained nimble and committed and we have found alternate equity to move this project forward and meet this project’s equity requirements.”

In May, the developers were granted another extension to the closing date amid the pandemic, from June 30 to September 30. The economic development agreement between Fort Wayne and development partners RTM Ventures called for an original closing at the end of September 2018.

Former Fort Wayne City Council member Tim Pape was also present to speak in support of the project, and noted that original timeline as “aggressive.”

He frequently referenced the decisions around Harrison Square two decades ago and the projects around it, like the hotel and Parkview Field, and noted the opportunity in front of the city was unique from others.

“This has had bipartisan support throughout. Across our local governments that are not often in sync as you know, has had that support throughout," Pape said. "And I haven’t seen support this sustained and broad-based for anything other than the riverfront in my 20 years of public service.”

An internal study, according to Biggs, says Electric Works will generate $387 million in annual revenue once it is up and operating. 56% of the campus has been leased so far.

As protests and conversations about inequality and racial injustice took center stage nationally as well as in Fort Wayne in June, Biggs says his team has been evaluating Electric Works’ role in advancing inclusivity in the city, as well as Allen County. He says opportunity is only possible through inclusion.

“Over a year ago we began serious discussions with community partners to create a workforce development program for the county that will use Electric Works as a vehicle to offer employment opportunities to help develop minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and veteran-owned businesses,” he said.

Biggs says the momentum and progress that was lost because of the coronavirus pandemic was a depressing factor for stakeholders, but the ability to adapt and still meet financial obligations has helped turn the tide.

“I was asked earlier today if my early March smile has returned, and I would say it definitely has.”

While the September 30 closing date is expected to be met, Biggs says there’s a chance that process might take place sooner, which in turn could have construction crews working on the site as soon as October.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered, and hosted Morning Edition for the past few years. In 2022, he was promoted to Content Director.
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