After years of planning and concerns about whether it would actually happen, construction is now imminent on a major redevelopment project in downtown Fort Wayne. The developers of Electric Works say they have closed on $286 million in financing for the project, which will transform the former General Electric campus into a mixed-use innovation district. The funding will support the 12-acre West Campus of Electric Works, which is the project’s first phase and is already more than 60% pre-leased.

RTM Ventures, which is developing the project alongside Cincinnati-based The Model Group, says it will invest more than $200 million over the next two years for the project.

“Reaching this milestone took the collaboration, commitment and passion of many, many people,” said Josh Parker with RTM Ventures. “We are grateful to our public and private sector partners for their continued support and belief in the potential of Fort Wayne and this project – and the profound positive impact it will have on the city, the region and the state. To the community, we are ready to make your vision of Electric Works a reality.”

Last year, it looked as if the project would not get off the ground after the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission terminated the original economic development agreement, citing concerns about the developer’s ability to secure private financing.

A new EDA was reached in October that included The Model Group coming on board as a co-developer and Tim Ash, chief executive officer of Fort Wayne-based insurance firm Ash Brokerage, signing on as an investor and general partner.

“Electric Works is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our city and our region – it keeps us moving forward and continues the momentum of positive development that has been taking place in downtown for the past several years,” said Ash. “2020 was a historically challenging year on many levels, and we are incredibly fortunate as a community to have a project of this scale and impact ready to go. It is an example of how Fort Wayne is going to be a ‘net winner’ in attracting and retaining talent and creating new jobs.”

Weigand Construction, also based in Fort Wayne, says it has begun mobilizing for the project, which the developers say will create about 2,000 construction-related jobs. 

The West Campus will include more than 700,000 square feet of space, anchored by Do It Best Corp., which is planning to relocate its headquarters and create about 90 jobs. It will also feature creative office, coworking, research, entertainment and retail space, a food hall and public market, a STEAM high school, a primary care clinic and pharmacy.

Among the other major tenants already signed on for Electric Works are Parkview Health, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Fort Wayne Metals, and IU Ventures.