Electric Works team provides a first look at plans for apartments, hotel and more at GE site

June 16th, 2017

By Bob Caylor | The News-Sentinel

Developers behind the Electric Works project electrified a brainstorming session on the arts Tuesday morning when they said apartments there could be available for less than $300 a month.

They also brought early drafts of plans for the redevelopment of Building 4 and Building 6 on the north side of the old General Electric campus, east of Broadway. Those plans include creating about 180 apartments, from studios to three-bedroom units. About 70 would be designated for lower-income tenants, with 110 available at market rates, he said.

Architect Kevin Scully of Design Collaborative said there's more than housing planned for the more than 300,000 square feet of space in those two buildings. Plans now call for a hotel, apartments (both market-rate and subsidized by tax credits), commercial space and studios or other work facilities there.

There are two keys to having a certain number of apartments in the redevelopment of the General Electric campus available that cheaply. First, the project needs to qualify for low-income-housing tax credits. Second, only people with incomes near or below the poverty line would qualify for those cheapest rents.

Kevan Biggs of Biggs Property Management hesitated to say what those affordable-rate housing prices would be. But he said rents at Renaissance Pointe in Fort Wayne offer some indication. In that 2011 project, three-bedroom apartments range from $274-$674 per month for low-income households, he said. Rents vary according to incomes.

According to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, a four-person household could make no more than $24,600 to qualify for that cheapest rent. A single tenant could make no more than $13,200 per year to qualify.

Developers and architects working on the redevelopment held the meeting at Wunderkammer Company, 3402 Fairfield Ave. About a dozen people involved in the arts came for the two-hour session.

Bill Struever, principal of Cross Street Partners, the Baltimore development company involved in Electric Works, said that attracting a mix of creative people to live and work there is fundamental to the development's strategy.

“We want techies. We want foodies. We want artists. We want makers,” he said.

Biggs said they hope to use a provision of HUD regulations that allows them to give preference to artists in signing up tenants for affordable housing in the development.

Dan Swartz, founder of Wunderkammer, was particularly excited about the prospect of a hotel in the future for the GE site.

“Any time you could add tourism to the arts, it makes it a million times better,” Swartz said.

Struever emphasized that a hotel is in the plan, but it's not set yet.

“We're just beginning to talk to a couple of operators,” Struever said.

Architects working on the Electric Works redevelopment spread out rough plans for every floor. The plans for Building 4 and Building 6 of the old General Electric campus would use about a fourth of the square footage of all the buildings south of downtown that once were part of GE's operations here.

Developers hope to begin work at the site in 2018, with first occupancy in 2019.

The history of GE and its predecessor companies in Fort Wayne dates back to the late 19th century. At its peak in the 1940s, the company employed more than 10,000 people here, mainly producing electric motors. Employment declined through the following decades, and the company eliminated its last few dozen jobs in Fort Wayne in 2014.

Categories Quality of Life