General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has launched a national search for partners to redevelop its former GE Broadway Street campus in Fort Wayne. The company announced the first major step, the request for qualifications process, this morning. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden, who has worked closely with regional partners in recent months to build a relationship with GE, estimates the redevelopment has the potential to spur a $1 billion economic impact on the surrounding area.
Doden says he is "as interested as anyone" in what comes of the effort. Though it is unclear at this early stage what the total investment could be, but he estimates a five-fold return for the surrounding area. "We believe that this redevelopment of approximately $250 million, give or take, we’re not exactly sure exactly how big the project will be, will lead to an additional billion dollars of private investment around it. So, it’s a very important strategic development for this community."
The campus has been vacant for almost a year and a half. The RFQ process is being handled by CBRE in Indianapolis and the submission deadline is July 13. Formal development proposals will be requested by GE in October and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says the company could make a selection by year’s end.
In a statement, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said:
GE’s collaboration with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. is a clear indication of a collective commitment to find an appropriate use for the campus. I’m also encouraged by GE’s willingness and interest in having continued dialogue with my office and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as we come together as a community to explore ways to redevelop an important corridor in the core of our City. My staff and I are optimistic that a viable plan will be developed for the site that will complement the momentum and investments we’re currently experiencing in Fort Wayne.
The project was a major feature of northeast Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative pitch and Doden says the combination of securing the $42 million in state funding and the ongoing developments taking shape in downtown Fort Wayne helped move the project higher on GE’s radar.
The facilities once employed thousands of workers. Only a handful remained in 2014 when the company announced it was pulling out of the city. In March, the iconic sign that lit up the main building was dismantled. Earlier this month, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. sent results of several public forums on reuse of the campus to GE officials. An organization called Save Our Fort Wayne General Electric Campus has been drumming up public support from a grassroots position for more than a year.
Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden tells Inside INdiana Business you can’t overestimate the potential benefits.