The last significant local road block to the Electric Works project was lifted this morning when members of the Capital Improvement Board voted unanimously to issue $45 million in bonds to support it.
RTM Ventures, the partnership redeveloping General Electric's former Fort Wayne campus, created a two-part plan that included $65 million in local money for the first phase.
Almost 75 percent of the $248 million funding for Electric Works would come from sources outside the community, comprised of federal, state and private money.
Like a high-stakes game of Jenga, the project would fall apart without that level of local financial support, the developers said.
After securing funding commitments from Fort Wayne City Council, the Allen County commissioners, the Legacy Joint Funding Committee and the Downtown Development Trust, the developers were only $20 million – or less than one-third – of the way to their goal.
But approval from the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board wasn't a gimme.
Now that the seven-member CIB has voted to support selling bonds for the project, Fort Wayne Redevelopment Authority will begin the process of issuing them, a procedure likely to stretch into the spring.
CIB has promised to make annual debt payments using the income stream created from the 1 percent food and beverage tax levied by restaurants throughout Allen County.
Today's vote doesn't make Electric Works a done deal, however.
With the final financial commitment in hand, the responsibility now falls on RTM Ventures to uphold its end of the agreement it signed with the city.
The developer's responsibilities include signing leasing agreements, securing a commercial loan, and finding buyers for state and federal tax credits awarded to the project. Large corporations can buy the credits at a markdown but apply them at full value to offset their state and federal tax bills.
For more on this story, see Wednesday morning's print edition of The Journal Gazette or go online to www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m.