RTM Ventures partners Josh Parker, Jeff Kingsbury and Kevan Biggs on Friday updated The Journal Gazette on Electric Works' progress.
The interview included the developers' responses to some concerns that local residents have raised in the past week. Below are their paraphrased responses.
Q. Fort Wayne didn't receive New Markets Tax Credits in the most recent round of awards. What effect will that have on the funding for Electric Works?
A. None. The developers previously secured $12 million in New Markets Tax Credits from local officials and didn't expect to receive more from that source. Instead, they have been looking for other recipients to use those tax credits here, an acceptable use of the economic development incentives.
“I think we're well on our way to finalizing the New Markets commitments,” Parker said. “That piece has come together quite nicely.”
Kingsbury said having local tax credits already committed makes it easier for the partners to persuade recipients in other markets that the project has strong local backing.
Q. How can the city benefit from its investment in Electric Works if Fort Wayne won't own any equity in the property?
A. The total local commitment of $65 million for the $248 million project includes the proceeds of $45 million in bonds to be issued by the Capital Improvement Board.
The remaining $20 million comprises money pledged by the Fort Wayne City Council, the Allen County commissioners, the Legacy Joint Funding Committee and the Downtown Development Trust, including $3 million in remediation funds from the county and the CIB.
Although the money wouldn't be paid back in the same way a loan would, the city would receive higher property tax payments for the 32-acre campus that formerly housed General Electric, the developers said.
After development, the property's value will rise, along with its assessed value and subsequent tax bill.
And that's not counting the higher property values already being seen in the neighborhood. Those property owners will be able to sell their homes for a tidy profit, if they choose. New jobs and businesses located on campus would also generate income taxes that would add to the city's coffers, Biggs added.
He said the entire community would experience an economic jolt from the success of Electric Works.
“That's a massive impact,” he said.
Q. Is Eric Doden's father one of the behind-the-scenes investors in Electric Works?
A. No. Daryle Doden, Ambassador Enterprises' CEO, made a loan to the developers to help them buy the former GE campus when General Electric officials said they wanted the property off their books faster than Parker could secure a bank loan.
A spokeswoman for Ambassador Enterprises couldn't say late Friday afternoon whether the money came from Doden's personal accounts or was arranged through the company. Eric Doden, who isn't affiliated with Ambassador, said he didn't know that detail. The bridge loan was paid back after six months, when the developers' usual funding sources came through, Parker said.
Neither Daryle nor Eric Doden has a financial interest in Electric Works, although the developers are encouraging Eric Doden to commit money to the deal.
Q. GE's manufacturing operation likely left toxic chemicals and other contaminants on that site. How is the cleanup coming?
A. Remediation efforts are on schedule with the first phase on pace to wrap up in mid-July, Parker said. No surprises have emerged as the crews have removed various contaminants.