May 20, 2022


Anything but ordinary

$286M renovation brings new life to century-old General Electric plant in Indiana

For a century, the Basic Electric campus close to downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, served as a symbol of the city’s industrial might. At its peak, in the late months of World War II, the campus used 40% of the city’s wage earners. 

GE departed the campus in 2014, but the hulking buildings it left behind had been under no circumstances razed. Now they are staying reborn as an ambitious multi-stage redevelopment named Electric powered Will work. 

Historical photograph.

Authorization granted by Weigand Building/archival picture


The initial phase of design, which began in January and is slated for completion following slide, will yield new headquarters for Indiana’s biggest employer, Do It Best Corp., as very well as home earmarked for instructional and overall health treatment amenities. Also unveiled will be Union Avenue Market place, Northeast Indiana’s to start with foods hall and community marketplace, that includes a lot more than 20 retailers as very well as a weekly farmer’s industry. A second period of redevelopment will follow.

Fort Wayne-dependent Weigand Development is serving as development manager on the redevelopment of 10 present West Campus properties encompassing about 730,000 sq. toes, all on a quick-monitor agenda, said CEO Larry Weigand.

“Bringing with each other all the financing associates took a very little more time than what we needed,” he stated. “We also fully commited to some of the tenants, like Do It Best, which needed to be in by the conclusion of 2022. That caused a compression of the timetable.”

Staging products and products on the dense urban web page near a residential region proved another obstacle. All building materials are to begin with shipped to and pulled with each other in an East Campus bullpen, then escorted to the suitable buildings on the West Campus on an as-desired foundation, mentioned Weigand Job Supervisor Cody Michaud.

Construction past month.

Permission granted by Weigand Development


Federal and point out historic tax credits assisted make the $286 million first stage feasible. That usually means the Nationwide Park Provider and Indiana State Historic Preservation Place of work must regularly monitor the do the job. “We created that into the schedule,” Michaud claimed. 

“You have to deal with that as a procurement direct time. We work hand in hand with the owner’s historic tax credit rating guide, Heritage Consulting,” he claimed. “They take a look at the occupation internet site month to month and walk the position with us just about every thirty day period to make sure what’s currently being installed is in accordance with the tax credit score pounds.”

Offered the COVID-19-era materials shortages, Weigand Design went to considerable lengths to pre-buy supplies, these kinds of as electrical conduit and piping structures. 

“Items we knew experienced a material direct time had been pre-acquired,” Michaud stated. “All the light-weight fixtures for the substantial structures were pre-bought, as were the plumbing fixtures.”

Building proceeded last thirty day period on Building 20, which will residence part of the Union Avenue Industry as very well as workplace room.

Permission granted by Weigand Development


At every single turn, Weigand Construction and Durham, N.C.-primarily based developer Ancora have sought to make certain the reinvigorated campus will boast plenty of nods to the site’s heritage. For a long time, the illuminated Standard Electrical emblem, recognized by a lot of as “the gumball,” had towered brightly above the campus. GE carted absent the gumball in 2015 following the structures were being bought. But a new illuminated Electric Works signal, along with a Do It Best indication, will be put in atop one particular of the properties as a backlink to the past.

“You will be ready to see them from miles away,” Weigand reported. “That was intentional.”

Historical image.

Permission granted by Weigand Development/archival picture


The restoration of the masonry blanketing 120,000 sq. feet of vertical wall is such a big component of the function that Weigand split the restoration amongst businesses headquartered in Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Indiana, and Lima, Ohio that specialize in historic projects involving masonry, Weigand said. 

“There are not a good deal of tradesmen doing the job in this approach, and they are in demand all more than the Midwest. To have the right amount of money of perform done, we experienced to divide the perform,” he explained. “Because it was a compressed schedule for this significant activity, we experienced to operate on various elevations of numerous buildings at the very same time.”

Windows had been an huge component of the original properties, and many thanks to historic window alternative they will be just as essential an factor of the redevelopment. The new home windows Wiegand Construction groups are setting up are correct reproductions of the unique windows, and will have the best R-benefit of the full wall technique.

In yet another nod to record, Electric Performs will attribute entertainment solutions that incorporate a revitalized and modernized gymnasium and bowling alley, which had been aspect of the leisure offerings in the “GE Club” created in 1927 for GE’s workers.

A rendering of Amp Lab, a university that is planned for the site. 

Permission granted by Weigand Building


The variety of Weigand Construction to control the project produced feeling offered the company’s deep Fort Wayne roots and its encounter in past adaptive reuse projects. Started in 1906, Weigand Design is a $300 million-a-year firm that has expanded beyond Northeast Indiana to Michigan and Ohio. 

A professional in wellness care, wellness, schooling, industrial and commercial construction, the enterprise developed award-successful Parkview Area, home of the city’s Class A Minor League Baseball workforce, which is credited with serving to spark the city’s downtown renaissance in the final 15 a long time.

Weigand Development also has helmed important adaptive reuse initiatives in the downtown district, together with redevelopment of the historic Embassy Theatre and adjacent Indiana Resort. A last thing to consider in its range was the company’s intense strategy to venture security.

“Our [mission statement] is that ‘We construct landmarks that effects the life and communities that we provide,'” Weigand, the firm’s fourth-technology CEO, mentioned. “There couldn’t be a better match than this challenge, since this will generationally impact lives and communities.”