The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:00 am

New building proposed for Electric Works


A “Building 33” on the west side of the Electric Works campus along Broadway has turned up in an application to be considered by the city's Board of Zoning Appeals. 

Previous applications have shown numbered buildings up to 31, but none numbered higher than that – because Building 33 will be a new building on the historic property, said Peter Mallers, a Fort Wayne attorney representing the developer, RTM Ventures.

The building previously was shown on some site plans as Building F, Mallers said, but it got numbered somewhere along the way.

The only new building proposed for the west campus, Building 33 is proposed for a vacant spot at the northeast corner of the west campus, just south of the railroad tracks across Broadway, he said.

The need for a variance arises because the National Parks Service has requested that location for the building, and it's 2.25 feet closer to the property line than the 25 feet required by the city's zoning ordinance, Mallers said.

The Parks Service is involved with granting historic tax credits for the development and has recommended the building “be in the same location as previously existed to maintain continuity of use and appearance,” the application says.

However, Mallers said he did not know if another building occupied the spot at some point in the site's history.

The building does not have a specific user but will probably offer a mix of uses, likely some retail and some office-related, Mallers said, adding he was unsure of specifics on square footage.

An architectural drawing with the application shows the roughly triangular building on a wedge of land abutting the tracks south of downtown Fort Wayne.

The application says a retaining wall there would be torn down and another constructed.

If the application is denied, Mallers said, the applicants would have to go back to the Parks Service and request the recommendation be changed.

“We're wanting to do something to maintain the highest level of tax credits we can” to attract investors, he said. Both sides “would like to get this wrapped up.”

Mallers said the applicants argue building closer to the lot line than allowed would have a negligible impact on surrounding properties.

The application states several properties to the north of the project are owned by “companies affiliated with Electric Works, with the intention of someday being part of the project” and those property values would be “enhanced” by the new building.  

Kevin Erb, Electric Works spokesman, Monday said he did not believe the project's historic tax credits “would be entirely dependent” on approval of the variance.

No public hearing date has been scheduled because of the closure of Citizens Square as a measure to fight spread of the new coronavirus, which causes the potentially fatal COVID-19.

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