A year from now, Jeff Kingsbury hopes that media and guests will be celebrating the completion of Phase I of Electric Works.
But that takes time and work. The 250-some construction workers who are turning the former General Electric buildings on the west side of Broadway into new homes for companies and retailers, schools and more got a thank-you lunch recently.
The West Campus of Electric Works is on schedule to open in fall 2022 and will include the headquarters for Do it Best.
Through this summer, the construction team has logged over 135,000 work hours on the project since it began.
The former GE complex, which has sat vacant for years, now has the potential to bring in not only property tax dollars but income tax from the over 1,000 workers expected to be on site eventually, said City Councilman Geoff Paddock, whose 5th District has Electric Works in the heart of it.
Paddock and Kingsbury, chief connectivity officer with Ancora Partners, the lead developer behind RTM Ventures, the entity responsible for Electric Works, greeted workers as they came for their free lunches. The barbecue chicken was made by Deli on Main of Van Wert, Ohio. The brownies came from Good Riddance Gluten-free Bakery of Fort Wayne. Kekionga Craft Co. made the cider.
"This is really our opportunity to say thank you to the professionals making this project a reality," Kingsbury said.
During the two-year construction phase:
• At 700,000 square feet, the public and privately financed Electric Works is one of the largest construction projects in the state
• Over $200 million is being spent in 24 months, with over 90% of the spend with Northeast Indiana trade partners and suppliers
• The investment is supporting 1,981 direct and indirect construction-related jobs
• The construction alone will generate an estimated $284 million in economic impact
During October, the windows will be placed. They'll be energy-efficient but also fit into the historical nature of the buildings, Kingsbury said.
Building 26 will be home to the relocated headquarters of Do it Best, which will occupy the top three floors, while Building 27 will be mixed-use with retailers that have yet to be announced.
Safety is paramount on the worksite, with Weigand as the lead contractor. Because of the retrofitting nature of the work, the buildings can shift, meaning that the public tours that took place in recent years aren't possible, Kingsbury said.
One building is being constructed on the project. That building, facing Broadway, which currently is a skeleton of steel girders, will be two floors of offices and one floor of retailers, Kingsbury said.
A current parking lot now filled with cranes, other equipment, and workers, will be a visitor lot. A 1,143-space parking garage will be part of Phase II with apartments, an early childhood learning center and a wellness and fitness center, Kingsbury said.
Work on the East Campus, on the other side of Broadway, will be a function of the market for the West Campus, which has drawn major tenants that include Parkview Health, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Medical Informatics Engineering, Ruoff Mortgage, Fort Wayne Metals, IU Ventures and Indiana Tech, all of which are already in the community.
"Our hope is that Electric Works and what it offers that Greater Fort Wayne, the state of Indiana and the Regional Partnership of Northeast Indiana can attract new businesses," he said.
Construction on the project began after numerous delays and the city of Fort Wayne pulling out in August 2020 of a deal to provide public financing for the project. After that, a new investor, Tim Ash, and co-developer the Model Group, stepped up and the project once again got on track.