General Electric campus for sale

May 26th, 2016

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May 26, 2016

General Electric campus for sale

Company wants to know developers' plans

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne’s General Electric campus along both sides of Broadway just south of downtown is officially on the market.

GE announced Wednesday that the 31-acre site with its 12 remaining buildings is up for sale and that it’s conducting a regional and nationwide search for qualified investors and developers interested in “potential reuse and redevelopment.”

That could be good news for Fort Wayne residents who have been meeting for about a year as the General Electric Campus Coalition to preserve the site for its historical and architectural value.

But “reuse and redevelopment” also can also mean tearing down buildings in favor of creating vacant land where new buildings can be built.

And, in separate interviews after the announcement, GE and local economic development officials said there’s no guarantee about what happens next.

Eric Doden, chief executive officer of Greater Fort Wayne, was “very happy” with GE’s decision to accompany the sale announcement with a Request for Qualifications letter, also known as an RFQ, in which potential buyers outline their plans for the property.

But he said whether the campus will be preserved “remains to be seen.”

“We’re anxious to see what opportunities GE will discover through the RFQ process,” said Doden, whose agency has been working with GE behind the scenes for months.

“GE has been a terrific partner in really trying to make sure that whatever this (site) gets repurposed to is to benefit the community.”

GE spokesman Matt Conkrite said “all options are on the table” for the property.

As part of the RFQ process, GE will evaluate interested parties on their experience, vision and “of course, the financial offer,” he said. But residents’ desire for preservation wouldn’t be a determining factor in which offer is chosen.

“It would be a consideration, but it wouldn’t be one where we would pick one (proposal) over the other,” he said. “Whether there is a preservation use of the property or not, that doesn’t come into what we’re doing.”

In its announcement, GE said proposals for the entire site “will be given first consideration,” but plans for portions of the property also will be accepted. The deadline to submit proposals is July 13, Conkrite said.

GE chose CBRE of Indianapolis to market the property. CBRE has a Fort Wayne office that will work with the Indianapolis office, said Barry Sturges, Fort Wayne managing director.

The announcement calls the site “one of the largest contiguous redevelopment opportunities in the region” and states that GE shares local objectives to “foster thoughtful, appropriate and actionable reuse of the property.”

In a statement, Mayor Tom Henry said he “appreciates and supports GE’s commitment to moving forward to explore future development opportunities” and is “encouraged” by GE’s “willingness and interest in having continued dialogue” as plans move forward.

City Councilman Geoff Paddock, who convened the GE coalition, said GE knows what the community thinks and feels about preservation from a report that was delivered after a series of community meetings in February.

“It may be that we won’t see everything we’d like to see, but the fact that we’re getting to the RFQ point of the process is progress,” he said.

“I’ve always felt that repurposing the entire campus and using all 12 buildings over all that acreage is a bit of a challenge, because a lot of those buildings are in need of repair and no one knew how much except GE itself.

“I think the best thing is to let this process play out for the next month and a half and see what comes forward.”

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