With one roll call vote, the City of Fort Wayne’s Redevelopment Commission terminated the economic development agreement with developers of Electric Works.
The future of the redevelopment of the old General Electric campus remains unclear.
A presentation Monday evening pointed out large gaps in private funding that RTM Ventures was on the hook for.
A leader with RTM Ventures argued against the characterization of a shortfall in funding for the project and had been working to secure cash up to the deadline.
One commission member argued the project was too large and too complex.
The vote was unanimous.
Another agreement could still be drafted, and the commission said the City will remain open to the developers bringing other options to the table.
Originally slated to cost $225 million, the redevelopment grew to a projected cost of more than $280 million.
RTM received numerous extensions as deadlines neared, then passed unmet.
In addition to the July 30 deadline to secure certain financing commitments, developers were given until Oct. 30 to close on the transaction.
“The new extension is a good faith effort to give RTM Ventures an additional month to meet the requirements needed the complete this kind of project,” Mayor Tom Henry said earlier this summer. “It’s critical to give our funding partners and taxpayers comfort that local dollars are being used wisely and are protected.”
A letter to developers dated June 26 congratulated them on the finalization of a key bank loan, but noted that the City “must withhold any consideration and approval… until the commitment is final.”
It included a notation: “There will be no more extensions.”
RTM said it hoped to close at the end of September, and construction was expected to begin right after in October.
Just last week, Electric Works finalized and signed a lease with its intended anchor tenant, Do it Best Corp.
The company had earlier this year announced plans to relocate its headquarters from neighboring New Haven to the downtown Fort Wayne project.
Other expected tenants included Fort Wayne Metals, Parkview Health, Conjure Coffee and Joseph Decuis.
A spokesperson for RTM Ventures issued the following statement:
We were taken by surprise by the meeting and shocked by the Redevelopment Commission’s vote to cancel the Economic Development Agreement on Electric Works. In the face of a global pandemic and historically high unemployment, we are planning to start construction this fall, spending $200 million over the next 24 months, and generating 2,000 construction and related jobs when this community needs it most, including a workforce development program and a commitment to growing minority-, women,- and veteran-business enterprises.
This deal is not dead. We own 40-acres and the most historic buildings in Fort Wayne, have full construction drawings, a shovel ready site, over 60% pre-leasing – including Indiana’s largest privately held company as an anchor tenant – along with leading organizations like Parkview Health, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Fort Wayne Metals, Indiana Tech, IU Ventures, and Medical Informatics Engineering, among others. With the support of local investors and civic leaders, businesses big and small, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, five local and regional banks, and federal and state tax credit investors nationwide, we have met the conditions of the Economic Development Agreement. We’re ready to move to closing this $280 million deal and getting people to work. We hope the City and Redevelopment Commission will come back to the table.
Our commitment to making this project happen has not changed, and we’ll continue to work to move Electric Works forward with the City and Redevelopment Commission. The people of Fort Wayne, Allen County, and Northeast Indiana have overwhelmingly supported the community’s vision of Electric Works from the start, and we will need them to continue to do so.