The GE Broadway campus, once a sign of vitality in Fort Wayne, is getting a breath of life.
Greater Fort Wayne Inc. announced Monday there is a new developer for the campus. Cross Street Partners of Baltimore was selected to purchase and redevelop it.
The campus was the site of a major job provider in Fort Wayne. At its zenith in the late 1940’s, GE’s Motors Division supported more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs in the city. Those days ended and by the time the company announced it would be leaving Fort Wayne there were only 30 workers reporting to the 1,000,000 square foot complex.
READ MORE: History of the GE Broadway Campus
At the end of the GE Broadway campus’ life, the workers were testing and modifying low-voltage motors made someplace else. Monday, Cross Street Partners said its vision for the campus is to reposition it as a mixed-use, place-based innovation district. The campus would feature commercial, retail, institutional, residential, hotel and community space.
Josh Parker, partner and principal of Cross Street Partners said the public and private investments being made in Fort Wayne tell a story about a community that is here to compete for talent, capital and jobs in the new economy. That is why he says it is a community worthy of a significant investment.
“My partners and our investors see incredible potential to support and grow a robust innovation economy in Fort Wayne and we are excited to join the momentum and work with the local community in crafting a plan that will uniquely fit the Fort Wayne opportunity,” Parker said.
The project will not be cheap. The investment looking to total more than $300 million with $41 million in private equity, $92 million in bank loans and $70 million in tax credit applications. The City of Fort Wayne has also agreed to seek a new TIF district.
Ever since the campus closed up shop, a group made up of community members, city leaders and former GE employees held meetings to decide on the campus’ future. The “General Electric Campus Coalition” tried to figure out ways to revitalize the space.
Redeveloping this campus is one of the five transformational projects proposed in the Opportunity on the Edge of Greatness vision that Greater Fort Wayne Inc. is using to market the city and county.
Back in June of 2015, the coalition brainstormed ideas of how to use the space. One of the proposed ideas was to turn building 19 into a movie studio. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. got behind the idea of reviving the iconic General Electric building.
Unfortunately, dreams of renovating the iconic General Electric sign, which used to illuminate the night sky over the summit city, went dark that November. Vandalism on General Electric’s vacant East Broadway campus forced officials to announce in March of 2016 that they would take down the iconic GE logo.
A premonition for Monday’s announcement came in October 2016, when General Electric officials said they were negotiating with a player in an effort to sell the campus. Even the announcement that the space would be mixed use was hinted at that October. Councilman Geoff Paddock, who spearheaded the coalition, hoped for a mixed-use development with shops and housing.
READ MORE: 5 things to know about Monday’s announcement
Senator Joe Donnelly worked closely with both GE and Norfolk Southern Railroad regarding a section of the campus it owns but leased to GE.
“I am glad we were able to bring GE and Norfolk Southern Railroad together and help them reach an agreement on selling GE’s 31-acre campus in the southwest corner of downtown Fort Wayne,” Sen. Donnelly said. “This redevelopment project will put these buildings back into use, bringing jobs and economic opportunity to Fort Wayne.”
If a final agreement is made, Cross Street Partner’s progress will include continuing to seek input from the community, securing commitments from institutional and commercial tenants, obtaining incentives and tax credits, approval of commercial loans and the completion of construction drawings.
Construction could begin as early as the fall of 2017 and be complete in three to four years.