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Electric Works redevelopment agreement moves forward

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved the redevelopment agreement between the city and developers.

Posted: Sep 10, 2018 10:52 PM
Updated: Sep 11, 2018 6:28 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - The Electric Works project cleared the first of several major hurdles Monday.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved the redevelopment agreement between the city and developers.

FOX 55 reported about a few weeks ago where several government agencies pledge a combined $62 million towards the project.

Developers hope to turn the vacant 39 acre factory into a mixed use innovative district, however some people don't think the taxpayers should have to pay for it.

"I think we could find a company to come in here to build things and put jobs together together for Fort Wayne people," said Harold Black, who lives a few blocks down the street.

RTM Ventures said it expects about 3,000 new jobs would be created by Electric Works.

Indiana Tech and Fort Wayne Community Schools have expressed interest in the project.

Black, who lives on Sweeny (a protected brick street), is worried about the impact extra traffic would have on his street.

"They have money set aside for repairing the street. They aren't repairing the streets as such," said Black.

That's one of the reasons why councilman Jason Arp, who is appointed to the redevelopment commission, voted against the agreement.

"We just pledged a lot of public infrastructure for this bond. So streets, lights, sewer, things that within the public works domain were just pledged as collateral for this," Arp told FOX 55.

People are still excited about the project, many were at the meeting, holding signs supporting the agreement.

Those signs also carry over to the neighborhood in the shadow of the former appliance factory.

"It gives us an opportunity to a giant eyesore in the middle of downtown into a tremendous asset to our community," said Jason Korner, who lives just north of the GE campus.

However, there are still a lot of moving parts before Electric Works becomes reality.

Agencies such as the Capital Improvement Board, Fort Wayne City Council and Allen County Commissioners have to approve how much money they plan to put towards the project.

"It does continue the momentum that really began for us from the surrounding community and neighborhood leaders," said Jeff Kinsbury, a partner at RTM Ventures.

Korner is hoping the momentum continues until the project is complete.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that things will work out and the city and developers will come to terms that are beneficial to everybody,"

Everyone has until October 31 to approve their portion of the money, but that could be extended.

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