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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:00 am

Developer optimistic on Electric Works

'Back on track' since letter aired worries, council told

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The developers of Electric Works told Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday they are close to meeting all the requirements necessary to achieve a November financing deadline.

“With the folks that reached out to us in the last couple of weeks, where I'm from, we call that within spitting distance,” Josh Parker of Cross Street Partners, one of the firms that make up RTM Ventures, told the council.

RTM Ventures is the firm developing Electric Works – the former General Electric campus – just south of downtown.

Parker also brought up an open letter published in The Journal Gazette that made public some of the firm's worries about the project moving forward.

“Two weeks ago, we released an open letter making the public aware of headwinds the project faces to reach closing and the commitment that will be required of all of us to get the project completed,” Parker said. “This is a defining moment that transforms support into action and determines how this project will impact the community for generations to come.”

Parker said the response to the letter from key city leaders and the overall community has been “exactly what was needed.”

“I believe we're back on track and moving forward to realize the vision that we worked on together with the community over the past few years,” Parker said. “We've been in communication with tenants, our lender and investors on the right commitments that will get this project done.”

Specifically, Parker said he's grateful to Fort Wayne Community Schools, which reaffirmed its commitment to lease about 26,000 square feet of renovated classroom space. The school board voted unanimously to endorse those intentions at its meeting Monday. Terms of the lease will be negotiated and brought to the school board by August for approval.

FWCS plans to open a new school on the Electric Works campus that would include half-day STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) opportunities for up to 300 juniors and seniors.

“This high school will be such a critical component as we build upon the entrepreneurial foundation of this community,” Parker said. “We've also heard from existing and new potential tenant prospects since our letter and are well on our way to meeting the leasing requirements for bank financing as we convert this recent interest into documented commitments.”

Parker did not provide examples of who has expressed interest but said he would make announcements soon. Parker also said no additional public funds will be requested from the city.

The developers met with bankers last week in Fort Wayne, Parker said, noting that “they felt very comfortable with where we are with the current pre-leasing commitments and our path towards meeting the requirement in the (economic development agreement) for 250,000 square feet pre-leased prior to closing.”

The goal, Parker said, is to close on the economic development agreement in November. At that time, assuming necessary conditions are met, public funds, including $10 million from the city's Legacy Fund, would be dispersed.

Parker also updated the council on the status of various tax credits necessary for the project. Those credits, he said, are on track to be secured this summer.

And he answered questions related to the structure of RTM Ventures, specifically that his company, Cross Street Partners, spun off a separate entity – Ancora Partners – to handle its investment in Electric Works.

“All of the principals of RTM Ventures remain the same, but the entities constituting that ownership have shifted slightly,” Parker said.

dgong@jg.net