Fort Wayne public funding group denies $23 million loan request from Electric Works developers

The $23 million dollar loan would have paid for some upfront costs and debts, and would have replaced the $63 million dollars committed to the project earlier on.

Posted: Nov 18, 2019 7:55 PM
Updated: Nov 18, 2019 10:42 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Electric Works is one of the largest development projects ever in the City of Fort Wayne and while not receiving approval of the loan is a let down, there’s still optimism surrounding the project.

Last week, the Electric Works developers, RTM Ventures, sent a letter to the Capital Improvement Board asking for a $23 million loan guarantee. Nancy Townsend with the Redevelopment Commission says the local public funding partners couldn't commit to that type of investment.

"It was just a bridge too far to put the public money in that position of risk," Townsend said.

Their concern? If they commit the $23 million to help with paying some costs right now, they'd be the new owners of the GE campus IF the project goes belly up,

"It's a property we have completed no due diligence on," Townsend said "The cost for owning and maintaining that from year-to-year is completely unknown to us."

5th District Fort Wayne Councilman Geoff Paddock has been an advocate for the project since the beginning. He has cautious optimism about the project's future.

Paddock said, "It is something that perhaps that would make some people uneasy. I'm hoping we can find a way to continue to make this project work."

Townsend and Paddock both says its possible someone else could come forward with that investment.

The original $63 million is still being committed from the City once all the terms of agreement are met, and Townsend says they'll still work with the developers to see how they can safely help.

"The public interest of those dollars I think is of our utmost priority and i think that we are our partners believe that this is the prudent move," Townsend.

"We see this as a huge regional project for the northeastern part of the state," Paddock said. "A lot of folks are watching us and we really need to work hard not to let them down."

If the project doesn't go through for some reason, Paddock says it could have impacts on development of the surrounding neighborhoods.

"New sidewalks, new infrastructure, street lights, could be years instead of months before we see some improvements."

All involved with the project say this isn't the end. A statement from RTM ventures said in part, “For now, nothing changes in terms of our outlook or approach. We remain committed to finding the right solution to close on the financing and continue the clean-up and renovation of this historic campus.”

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