FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Representatives from RTM Ventures and supporters of the Electric Works project at the former downtown Fort Wayne General Electric campus held a virtual “town hall” meeting Thursday night.
The meeting, according to RTM’s Jeff Kingsbury, was to assuage fears that the $280-million project would continue to move forward in the wake of the City of Fort Wayne’s Redevelopment Commission suddenly withdrawing from an economic development agreement, taking $62-million in public funding away in the process.
The Commission argued that RTM Ventures missed too many project deadlines, also raising questions over financing that RTM disputed. The sudden nature of the agreement’s termination has led to some on the City Council calling for an investigation.
61.3% of the project is pre-leased, according to Kingsbury, who said that despite the Redevelopment Commission’s move to terminate the development deal, there have been no tenants deciding to pull out of the project.
“This is not our project, it is really this community’s (project),” Kingsbury said. “We have involved thousands of folks in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana who have contributed through their participation in events and working groups, and so we are continuing to move towards that vision.”
Fifth District City Councilman Geoff Paddock said he was disappointed with the Commission’s decision to terminate the deal, saying that he will work to have a new agreement ready within “the next few weeks” to ensure that the project moves forward and Do It Best, Inc. remains as the project’s anchor tenant.
“I am fighting for this,” Paddock said, “I am working hard to see us bring forward another agreement to keep the Electric Works project moving forward… it will help jump-start our economy. To have some 2,000 construction jobs beginning, and to have millions of dollars in wages pumped into our economy… how critical that is.”