A bit of mystery still surrounds plans for a large-scale distribution center along U.S. 30 in Fort Wayne that has been dubbed “Project Mastodon.” Several elected officials, including Mayor Tom Henry, know the name of the company, but won’t reveal it because they’ve signed agreements requiring they stay silent on that issue, at least for now.
It could put city council members in an uncomfortable position leading up to an important vote.
About 82 acres of land on Flaugh Road near Sweetwater Sound would be dedicated to a distribution facility standing more than 100 feet tall, occupying close to 3 million square feet of space.
The project is set up to support 1,000 jobs paying at least $15 an hour with benefits.
There has been much speculation that it’s an Amazon fulfillment center much like one recently approved in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Media representatives contacted by WPTA say Amazon kept its name out of the public eye in that situation until very late in the approval process.
A tax abatement request has been filed with Fort Wayne City Council, which would phase in payment of new property taxes on the Flaugh Road project over 10 years.
The tax break would total $16 million.
Most city council members have not been told the name of the company in question and with a tax abatement vote looming, that’s not going over real well.
“I’m sure it’s probably something that’s going to be very exciting. They say up to a thousand jobs, you know, all these things coming. The taxpayers and the citizens though will be on us to make sure we specifically know what we’re voting for,” said Democrat 5th District councilman Geoff Paddock.
“City council’s job is to approve tax abatements, it does require a certain amount of information to do so properly. I’m happy to sign a non-disclosure, but either way, I don’t want to be put in a position where I’m asked to make a decision without knowing what I’m deciding,” said Republican 2nd District councilman Russ Jehl.
3rd District councilman Tom Didier goes further, saying the public definitely needs to know who the company is if there’s a tax abatement that comes forward.
WPTA reached out to the Fort Wayne Community Development Department about whether council will be told the name prior to any vote on phasing in taxes on the project. The station was told Wednesday that is still being reviewed.
A public hearing on the abatement request is scheduled for March 23rd.
There is no firm date for a vote by council on the issue.