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Fort Wayne Terminates Electric Works Agreement, Citing Funding Shortfalls

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Rebecca Green
/
WBOI

Fort Wayne’s Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Monday afternoon to terminate the economic development agreement (EDA) with RTM Ventures for the Electric Works development project.

Monday’s meeting of the body was moved up a week to accommodate the discussion. The city says RTM had substantial shortfalls on its end of the agreement -- notably, $30 million on a construction loan and $21 million in equity, reported by city attorneys.

The deadline per the EDA for all financial obligations to be met by RTM Ventures was July 30. In a meeting between RTM and City Council in late June, the developer stated it would be meeting with lenders to finalize outstanding obligations by the final week of that month.

But the commission says the expectations of the EDA were not fully met by the Thursday, July 30 deadline, and that it had five days to take further action.

RTM’s attorney Pete Mallers was on hand, arguing that these funding gaps were closer to $8 million and didn’t demonstrate a shortfall, and that commitments have been made.

“We're ready to move to closing this $280 million deal and getting people to work. We hope the city and Redevelopment Commission will come back to the table,” said Mallers.

But Commission Director Nancy Townsend pushed back, noting more than five extensions had already been given to the developer since the EDA had gone into effect in 2018. She noted that the decision comes from protecting taxpayer dollars.

“From the feedback we’ve heard, the documentation that’s been provided so far, which in our opinion does demonstrate a shortfall and does not meet the measure that we would go up against to protect a remaining $62 million in public funds,” Townsend said.

The board’s decision will effectively terminate deals RTM had made with the Allen County Capital Improvement Board and County Commissioners, as well.

RTM paid $5.5 million for the site in 2017. In order for RTM to continue work on the project with public-private support, they would need to negotiate a new EDA with the city, something several board members said they would be open to.

Ten million of the $62 million local funding would have come from the Legacy Fund. The campus won commitment from New Haven’s Do-It-Best as an anchor tenant for the property, and it was scheduled to host the 2020 Middle Waves music festival in June before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back to next year.

It remains immediately unclear what this means for the campus going forward, but in a statement from Mayor Tom Henry’s office, spokesperson John Perlich assured Electric Works supporters that “enthusiasm and interest in the former GE site is still there.”

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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