The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 04, 2018 1:00 am

CIB members give look at thought process

SHERRY SLATER and DAVE GONG | For The Journal Gazette

At least three members of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board plan to vote yes Tuesday on a proposal to issue $45 million in bonds to support the Electric Works project. Four affirmatives are required to advance the plan. Last week, six of the seven described their approaches to the decision:

Jim Cook

Occupation: Chase market executive for northern Indiana; CIB president

Chosen by: CIB members

Years on CIB: 2

Vote: Yes

Reason for your vote: “I think it's just a fantastic opportunity and a wonderful project. It's going to literally transform the ZIP code.”

Any elements of concern: Just getting it done on time and controlling costs – the same as with any large project. But he expects a positive return on investment.

Ben Eisbart

Occupation: Retired from Steel Dynamics Inc.; CIB vice president

Appointed by: Allen County commissioners

Years on CIB: 9

Vote: Undecided as of Friday, but he's “getting to yes”

Reason for your vote: He was still reviewing data.

Any elements of concern: “I believe, conceptually, it could be a game-changer. The question I have at this point is how doable it is. So, at this point, I'm not a 'no,' but I'm not a 'yes.'”

Steve Brody

Occupation: Lincoln National Corp. retired executive; CIB secretary

Appointed by: Mayor Tom Henry

Years on CIB: 6

Vote: Yes, “as of what I know now” Friday

Reason for your vote: His support could hinge on whether the CIB attaches conditions to its approval. “It gives me a little angina, because that's a lot of money.”

Any elements of concern: Because the letters of intent called for in the developer's agreement with the city are nonbinding, he would prefer that the developers present signed lease agreements for at least a minimum number of square feet before the deal's closing. The potential condition would be “to cover the small possibility” that no other funding source requires it.

Yogi Parikh

Occupation: Azar Inc. president; CIB treasurer

Appointed by: Mayor Tom Henry

Years on CIB: 9

Vote: Declined to answer

Reason for your vote: He expects to receive more financial data Monday.

Any elements of concern: “I'm trying to evaluate the whole transaction.”

Tim Pape

Occupation: Carson Boxberger partner

Appointed by: Mayor Tom Henry

Years on CIB: 3

Vote: Yes

Reason for your vote: “I think it is really unique in all the projects we've done in that it's really, truly a neighborhood project for that area. But, also, we'll have a region-wide impact, and we're generating three times additional investment from what we're putting in with local money: for $65 million going to be $220 million total. Heck of a deal to be able to reclaim that property, revitalize that part of town, be a regional draw and generate, catalyze $165 million on additional investment.”

Any elements of concern: “No more than the prudent concern you always have when you do these public/private partnerships. There are no certainties in life.”

Lisa Starks

Occupation: Barnes & Thornburg partner

Appointed by: Allen County commissioners

Years on CIB: 6

Vote: Yes

Reason for your vote: “I do think it is a transformative project for that particular neighborhood and for the community as a whole.” She also sees it as a good way to revitalize that space.

Any elements of concern: “The CIB has had many discussions about the trade-off of supporting Electric Works at the expense of other potential future projects.”

Don Steininger

Occupation: Steininger Development owner

Appointed by: Allen County commissioners

Years on CIB: 1

Vote: Declined to answer. “I've struggled with it a lot.”

Reason for your vote: “I don't think I can answer your question. I think it's inappropriate to do it. It's just too politically charged at this point.”

Any elements of concern: “In my heart, do I believe it can be successful? Yeah. Do I believe it can be successful in two or three years? No.” Although redevelopment of the 26-acre campus has been divided into phase I and phase II, he wishes phase I was divided into even smaller parts. “It is a long-term project, not a short-term project.”

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