The chief executive officer of New Haven-based Do It Best Corp. says the Electric Works mixed-use innovation district in downtown Fort Wayne is an ideal spot for relocation. The company announced Thursday it has signed a letter of intent to move its corporate headquarters to the former General Electric campus, which is expected to undergo a major redevelopment later this year. Dan Starr says the company will add 90 jobs to its existing staff of about 440.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Starr said the company has had a need for a new space.
“For us, if you walk around our facility, you’ll see that we exist in what is a converted warehouse space,” said Starr. “And that suited our needs wonderfully for a number of years but increasingly, it’s become difficult to navigate across physical boundaries, across a whole lot of wasted space within the environment. It’s just becoming increasingly challenging to maintain the level of work performance that we would like to have.”
Starr says the space will serve as a key component in attracting and retaining multi-generational talent. He says having an office space in an industrial environment is attractive to employees, but Electric Works is unique.
“For the most part, folks build to look like that; they’re not restoring an environment that already has all those features and benefits. Here, you’ve got beautiful architectural elements. It just needs to be properly restored.”
Electric Works developer RTM Ventures says Do It Best will serve as the anchor tenant for the project. The developer plans to begin work on the $250 million first phase of the effort, which will redevelop the west campus of the site, accounting for about 700,000 square feet of space.
The developer has spent the last several months securing letters of intent from additional tenants. Jeff Kingsbury with RTM Ventures says the first phase about 59% pre-leased.
Kingsbury says construction is expected to begin this summer, once they have closed on the financing for the project. The developer recently sought an extension of its economic development agreement with city and state agencies, which have committed $62 million in public funding.
“We have to focus right now on a lot of blocking and tackling to assemble and complete all the financing that comes into play,” said Kingsbury. “It involves federal, state, and local sources, as well as private capital – bringing all of those sources together to close on the financing in June and then working with our design and engineering team to get all the construction drawings done so that we can begin construction in July.”
Starr says the company has had a need for a new space.