Filing gives look at plan for GE site
By Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette
The first official site plans for the Electric Works project to revitalize Fort Wayne's former General Electric campus show none of the major buildings will be torn down and several new buildings, including two parking garages, will be constructed.
The plans were filed Tuesday afternoon with the Department of Planning Services, minutes before the deadline for consideration at the May 14 public hearing of the Fort Wayne Plan Commission.
Two site plans were included – one for the west side of the campus along Broadway south of downtown and one for the east side.
RTM Ventures of Baltimore is seeking approval of primary development plans, rezoning of 27 acres of the property and several requests for waivers of development standards.
Peter Mallers, an attorney with Beers, Mallers, Backs & Salin of Fort Wayne, said the plans were submitted even though project financing has yet to be arranged.
“It means we're still working on it (financing), but to keep things moving we are proceeding with the land-use process,” he said.
The project's first phase, for the west side of Broadway, is projected to cost $220 million. The east side plans remain more speculative, even as depicted, he said. If approved, the rezoning would take most of the property from limited and intensive industrial, plus a limited amount of multiple-family residential, to limited commercial. That will allow office, retail and residential and other proposed uses, Mallers said.
A small portion of the land and Building 36 on the west side of College Street, will remain intensive industrial, according to the plans.
On the west side of Broadway, buildings to will remain are Nos. 19, 20, 21, 22, 22a, 23 (the gymnasium), 24, 25, 25a and 31. A new building labeled F is proposed at the northeast corner of the west campus for office and retail space.
A water feature runs through the west side of campus. Also proposed are 328 parking spaces in two lots and future parking lots north of the railroad tracks at the north side of the west campus.
The east side of campus includes two parking garages, one at the northeast side of the property and one near McCulloch Park. Buildings 4 through 9 are proposed to remain and four future buildings are shown.
Large parking lots and an arts lawn and green space are also shown for the east side.
The waivers from development standards are for height, setback, size and number of buildings on a single lot and will “allow what we have there now,” Mallers said.
RTM Ventures has either secured or is eligible for about $100 million in federal and state tax credits for the project, but it still needs about $65 million in public money to finalize other funding, including a bank loan.
The City Council on Feb. 27 approved a nonbinding resolution allowing city officials to explore public funding options, including $13.5 million in grants and loans from the Legacy Fund, created from the lease and sale of the city's former electric utility.
Other possibilities mentioned in February include $3 million in Legacy funds as a debt reserve and $3 million from the city's county economic development income tax reserves, but a gap of several million public dollars remains.
The application says construction is to begin by July and be completed by the end of 2020.
The May public hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Room 35 of Citizens Square.