Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Henry

Sunday, September 09, 2018 1:00 am

Due diligence yields sound Electric Works deal

Tom Henry

The Electric Works proposal has taken an important and positive step forward as RTM Ventures and the city administration have agreed to the language contained in the economic development agreement.

My administration, our colleagues in Allen County government, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board and RTM have been working diligently for several months and will continue to work collectively to determine the best path to help Electric Works get to the finish line and start construction in 2019.

From the beginning, I've been consistent that I want Electric Works to become a reality and succeed. As mayor, it's my obligation to lead a due diligence effort to ensure the best interests of the entire community are being met. That has taken time, not because of a lack of interest or lack of support by me or my leadership team or an attempt to stop progress, but because it was the right and responsible thing to do when you're considering a public investment of $62 million.

Additionally, the availability of Legacy funds for this project was the result of my administration's negotiations with Indiana Michigan Power, and as such I feel a responsibility as mayor to make sure those funds are invested wisely; once they are invested into a project they will not be replenished. The injection of $62 million of public funds into a private development, not as a loan and not as direct investment, should not be and was not taken lightly in order to secure the promised outcomes.

Electric Works is moving ahead because the development team and I agree that the content within the economic development agreement is achievable and at the same time protective of the public investment. Procedures and conditions were built into the agreement through significant dialogue and negotiation and with the best interest of our residents and the future of our city at the forefront. Both RTM and the city willingly signed off on the details of the agreement.

Each project we've started, finished or will start under my leadership stands on its own merits with unique development agreements and unique components. From Ash Skyline Plaza to The Landing to new hotels to Superior Lofts and from Randall Lofts to Cityscape Flats, we've done and will do our best to be good and trusted partners with the private sector. We recognize that successful public-private partnerships are critical to advancing our community and region as a leader in meeting the quality-of-life needs and desires of individuals, families and businesses.

To be in a position to take Electric Works to the local governing bodies for approvals is an accomplishment that shouldn't be understated. It's significant to have reached this milestone. This week, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission will be the first entity to consider the development agreement. If the agreement is approved by the redevelopment commission, that body would serve as the signatory for the city on the agreement and would oversee implementation and compliance of the terms and conditions of the agreement and coordinate efforts with the other local entities from which approvals will be required.

Following the consideration by the redevelopment commission, other local governing bodies that would also be responsible for considering and approving public funding include the Capital Improvement Board, City Council, Allen County Board of Commissioners and Allen County Council. In addition, the board of public works would have a role with approvals related to the infrastructure needs for the project, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Authority would implement elements of the local public funding transaction and the Legacy Joint Funding Committee will likely be asked to consider a financial request from RTM Ventures.

While no official timetable for the project to go before those governing bodies has been established, both the city and RTM will seek the necessary approvals as soon as possible. The complete economic development agreement, a summary of the agreement and a summary of the upcoming approval processes can be found at www.cityoffortwayne.org.

I'm encouraged by the steps we're making with Electric Works as we work together to continue the positive momentum and investments we're experiencing in Fort Wayne. Let's come together united and committed to ensuring Fort Wayne continues to be a point of destination for job and business growth, entrepreneurial opportunities, a thriving and growing downtown, and strong neighborhoods. Our community deserves the best, and I'm confident we'll continue to deliver projects and outcomes that will position Fort Wayne as a viable and sustainable leader in the Midwest and the entire country.

Tom Henry, a Democrat, is mayor of Fort Wayne.