The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 1:00 am

Electric Works humming along

Site of Do it Best HQ 60% finished


A Friday morning tour of Electric Works for members of the media and others showed the project is, indeed, working.

The former General Electric campus being repurposed into a multiuse center for innovation swarmed with workers in hard hats and green or orange safety vests.

At the site along the west side of Broadway, just south of downtown, concrete was being pumped from a truck into one building opening to finish a floor.

Beeping materials-moving machinery crisscrossed the site's Dynamo Alley, and an outdoor construction elevator whisked visitors to the fifth floor of Building 26, the future headquarters of Do it Best.

Although the spaces were largely open and empty, they showed progress from earlier this year.

Perhaps most noticeable among the changes were the big new windows installed in Building 26 and new skylights in Building 31, which will become a greenhouse area for Fort Wayne Community Schools' Amp Lab.

The lab is a hands-on high school focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math. The site is scheduled to open at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

Project officials said the renovation is on schedule.

“Every time I come out to the site now, I get goosebumps, thinking about what it is going to look like when we cut the ribbon next fall,” said Kevan Biggs, a partner in developer RTM Ventures.

Cody Michaud, site coordinator for construction management company Weigand Construction of Fort Wayne, said Building 26 is about 60% done. The Amp Lab has had drywall and some interior finishes installed, he said.

A new building on the far eastern edge of the project is about 35% complete, Michaud said. Known as Building 33, the building includes residential and retail spaces, he said.

Larry Weigand, Weigand Construction's CEO, said about 500 workers will be on-site at the peak of construction. Between 200 and 300 are now working there.

“Ninety percent of all of the labor force and contractors are local, meaning local in our Allen County area,” he said. “This project, before we open the doors, is going to be giving back to the community.”

Dan Starr, president and CEO of Do it Best, called the project an “ideal location” to launch the company's future. Do it Best has committed to 150,000 square feet in the building, he said. 

“We want nothing more than to stay here and grow here,” Starr said. “We  will be thrilled to be here.”

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