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City council members: Electric Works arena is a bad idea

Last year, plans for redevelopment of the large campus near downtown, now called Electric Works, were announced.

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 10:49 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 10:49 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Developers of the former General Electric plant are still working to secure local funding for the project.

Last year, plans for redevelopment of the large campus near downtown, now called Electric Works, were announced.

So far, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne Community Schools and a farmers market intend to lease space in the historic campus.

Developers are still looking for $65 million in local funding for the project.

In a letter to Mayor Tom Henry this week looking for more public funds, developers mention the idea of an arena.

The city abandoned plans for an arena after there wasn't enough support for the project to make sense.

"If that's something that makes sense for the community, that makes sense for the city, makes sense for the city, makes since for electric works, we are open to it," said Electric Works spokesman Kevin Erb.

Fort Wayne city council members John Crawford and Russ Jehl said adding the possibility of an arena to Electric Works is a bad idea.

"I don't understand why you would but together a popular idea that has very great potential, with an unpopular idea," said Crawford.

"I would not be able to support an arena even at electric works without a public referendum," said Jehl.

In the letter to Mayor Henry, developers said the project won't go forward unless they get $65 million from the city.

In an earlier email, Henry said the city needs to be careful with tax dollars, but supported $50 million towards the project.

Developers are facing a July 1 deadline to secure the remainder of the funds.

"We want to get to start getting to work on that campus and bring it back to life," said Erb.

"This maybe our only chance to really put this together anytime soon," said Crawford.

Developers already secured funding from the federal and state governments.

But Crawford said this could still an investment for tax payers.

"All of the public money will come back in through taxes and other things," he said.

Environmental clean up on the property is expected to begin in a few weeks.

Construction is scheduled to begin July 1.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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