Partnerships power GE redevelopment
By Linda Lipp | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Newly released photos of the interior of some of the buildings on the General Electric campus in downtown Fort Wayne show the damage done by years of neglect.
But the inventory of the structures and environmental conditions at the former GE property turned up “nothing we haven’t seen before,” said Jeff Kingsbury, of Indianapolis-based Greenstreet Ltd., one of the partners on the massive redevelopment project.
The redevelopment team is led by Baltimore-based Cross Street Partners, which has previous experience in rehabbinig and repurposing old industrial sites. The team worked with GE and had a number of meetings with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to assess conditions both above and below ground at the site, which has been used for manufacturing since 1883. Cross Street also brought in local architecture and engineering firms and a consultant to do more detailed analysis of the buildings and what is needed to stabilize and repurpose them.
“There’s been a lot to understand,” Kingsbury said.
The findings are helping the development team budget for the project and determine what uses are most appropriate or what might need to be restricted on certain parts of the campus.
On Sept. 25, the Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission approved the developers’ application for National Register of Historic Places status. If accepted by the National Register, that will open the door to other sources of funding.
Kingsbury said the redevelopment plan would preserve 90 percent of the structures on the campus; and the buildings that will be torn down are metal buildings and other non-historic additions that add nothing to its historic value.
RTM Ventures, the formal name for the partnership planning to redevelop the site, closed on the purchase of the property Sept. 21. The purchase was $5.5 million, but the entire redevelopment of the site is expected to total about $400 million, Kingsbury said.
The first phase will focus on the $220 million redevelopment of the property on the west side of Broadway, with the east side to follow. (See box.)
The developers already have received expressions of interest from potential future tenants, Kingsbury said, and they expect to sign some pre-leases in the fourth quarter of this year that will help determine how some of the buildings are redeveloped. Decatur-based Biggs Development is one of the local partners involved in the effort. Weigand Construction was selected as project manager.
Other Fort Wayne-based companies involved with the project include Design Collaborative, Elevatus Architecture, Engineering Resources, Ferguson Advertising, Gouloff-Jordan Surveying and Design, Hoch Associates, Martin/Riley Architects and Engineers, MSKTD & Associates, SCO Engineering, and Viridian Design.
“I continue to be encouraged by the momentum and investments we’re experiencing in the city of Fort Wayne – our downtown is thriving, neighborhoods are growing and we’re seeing a positive business climate with job growth and expansion projects,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement Sept. 25. “To continue to see successes, we can’t stop. We must be committed to moving forward in the right direction to make Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana a point of destination. One of the ways we’ll be able to do that is by supporting projects like Electric Works.”
The 39-acre campus with 18 buildings totaling more than 1.2 million square feet of space has been renamed Electric Works. Through a public/private partnership that is being developed, it will be repurposed as a mixed-use, place-based innovation district, including commercial, retail/market, institutional, residential, hotel and community space. Potential funding for the project includes private equity, bank loans, New Market Tax Credits, federal historic tax credits and government incentives.
“We are now focused on working with the community in a public/private partnership to make Electric Works a mixed-use development built on innovation, energy and culture – and we are very grateful in particular to Mayor Tom Henry for his leadership and support, as well as to the city of Fort Wayne, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and General Electric in getting us to this crucial next step,” said Josh Parker, of Cross Street Partners.
For more information, visit fortwaynelectricworks.com.
Did You Know?
The $220-million first phase of the redevelopment of the former General Electric campus, now known as Electric Works, could begin in the next several weeks. The initial phase will focus on the portion of the campus on the west side of Broadway and will feature:
- 224,000 square feet of office space
- 113,000 square feet of institutional/education space
- 83,000 square feet for retail/restaurants and a food hall
- 83,000 square feet of dedicated innovation space facilities
- 82,000 square feet of residential space
- 31,000 square feet of amenities and recreational space