A first look inside the GE campus and one-on-one talk with the d - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

A first look inside the GE campus and one-on-one talk with the developer

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

After months of negotiations, Fort Wayne's old GE campus has finally been sold to developers -- and Thursday, we got our first look inside.
Reinventing the former General Electric campus into a mixed-use development called Electric Works is a gargantuan task.
Developers from Baltimore, Indianapolis and Decatur spent five and a half million dollars to buy the property from GE a few weeks ago, and will spend $220 million to develop the first phase of the project, everything to the west of Broadway.
"This is not just a real estate development project, it's really a community development project," Jeff Kingsbury says.
Kingsbury from Indianapolis-based Greenstreet is one of the developers.
Having grown up in Fort Wayne, he knows the campus's history and says it's time for the property to be reborn.
"Create through a public-private partnership a mixed-use innovation district that honors the legacy of innovation and ingenuity that's been on this campus for well over 100 years," he says.
The site contains 1.2 million square feet over more than 39 acres of land, and the developers plan to use 95% of the existing brick buildings for various forms of residential, retail, restaurant, office, institutional, and community space.
Because the property has historic designation, the project will qualify for redevelopment tax breaks and financing programs.
"That allow us to leverage our private capital to make this project feasible at rents that are market rate for the city of Fort Wayne. Our intent on the residential side, though, is to have people of a wide range of incomes being able to call this place home," Kingsbury says.
What remains to be seen is how much it might cost you to live there.
"Long-term, and we've got several years of development here, our intention is to create really a diverse product mix of different home types at different price points, and attract a diversity of people to live here," he says.
There is some concern in the community that especially retail space will only be available to newcomers to the community or national chains with deep pockets, as opposed to home-grown locals who'd like to set up shop there.
Kingsbury insists while they won't occupy 100% of the space, local tenants will be key.
"To a certain extent it's like curating a public space. It's not going to be a situation where we put just a sign in the window and say anybody sign a lease. We want to get the right mix of tenants and users here because they can really help create an active campus, which is really what ultimately what we want," he says.
The next step is to finish environmental studies and site remediation, as well as formalize the public-private partnership for financing, with construction anticipated to begin next summer.
The first retail and residential tenants could move in as soon as early 2020.

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