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Construction on long-awaited Electric Works project begins

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Contractors are on site beginning job of transforming old GE property into thriving commercial center called Electric Works.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - There were times in the past few years where no one could be certain the colossal task of transforming the abandoned General Electric campus on Broadway into a thriving commercial center would ever come to fruition.

But now contractors are buzzing around on the property, signalling the start of the much-anticipated project.

The developers on Tuesday wrapped up financial closing work to make sure all the money was in place to move forward.

In about a year and a half, the restoration of the GE property should be complete.

Interior building demolition and utility work are among the tasks occupying the time of construction workers early in the process.

Up to 2,000 construction workers will be earning paychecks restoring eight older buildings that are the focus of phase one.

There will be offices, retail shops, an indoor farmer's market and food hall, a bowling alley, and space set aside for Fort Wayne Community Schools to educate students.

Do it Best Corporation will locate its world headquarters inside one of the buildings, serving as the anchor tenant for Electric Works.

We're told 63 percent of the overall space is now pre-leased.

But the developers say very few retail tenants so far have signed on the dotted line.

"We've spent very, very little time focusing on any of these retail elements as we've been told by the market and by site selectors those are the users that really start to get excited and make those decisions when they're 12 months out from moving in. So we're shifting our focus to that element of the retail," said Kevan Biggs with RTM Ventures, which is developing the property.

"In Building 19 here, we'll actually be taking all of the windows out to start with, so that the facade work can get done, because new sills have to be installed. Once those start popping in, it'll really make a huge difference in what this looks like," said Steve Whiteley, the construction site superintendent.

Phase one should be complete in the summer to early fall of 2022.

There will be no apartments in that phase, but plans call for residential living options in phase two, which if built, will occur on the east side of Broadway.

The price tag for phase one will approach $300 million.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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