Demand Strong For Electric Works Despite Interference Claims

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FORT WAYNE -

The vice president of economic development for Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says the claims of interference in the $440 million Electric Works project are "unfortunate." The developers of the massive project, RTM Ventures, said over the weekend a group of people "in positions of power and influence" were working to thwart the effort's progress, which has caused apprehension among potential investors and tenants. Ellen Cutter says, however, demand remains strong for the type of office and residential space that would be offered by the redevelopment of the former General Electric campus.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Cutter would not give further comment on the developers' claims, but said the organization has been working with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to market the project.

"A couple of weeks ago, our CEO John Urbahns and the CEO of the partnership, John Sampson, were meeting with site selectors in Chicago and they told us that they loved the project. They can't find enough office product of this type to satisfy demand but that the timeline for delivery needs to be much shorter," said Cutter. "So it's very hard to get prospects to sign a lease two, two-and-a-half, three years out, so that's a real challenge."

Cutter cited the results of a survey released by GFW in July that showed 86 percent of residents supported the Electric Works project. A study commissioned last year by RTM Ventures also showed the project could help meet a significant portion of the demand for hotel, residential and office space in downtown Fort Wayne. 

Cutter says, if the Electric Works project were to not move forward for any reason, officials would have to explore other opportunities to satisfy that demand and bring the former GE campus back online.

"It's a historic General Electric campus that once employed a third of Fort Wayne's workforce in World War II. We have so many members of our community that have family and personal connections to that campus. It's a huge source of pride within our community. It really is an asset and we want to see that asset leveraged and to see that campus redeveloped in some form or fashion in the future."

RTM Ventures released an open letter talking about the alleged interference with the Electric Works project, saying they have made "enormous progress" with pre-leasing interest and financial support on the local, state and federal levels. However, the developers also made a plea to those they claim are stifling the progress of the project to put the interest of the community at the forefront and support the project.

You can read the full open letter by clicking here.

Cutter says GFW has been working with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to market the project.
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