By Bridgett Hernandez
Electric Works is hosting a variety of summer programming in an effort to engage the community, spark new ideas and build excitement. Developers and local officials say the $220 million project will transform the former General Electric campus in downtown Fort Wayne and create space for office, educational, innovation, retail, hotel and entertainment uses. The project is supported by a public/private partnership between RTM Ventures and the City of Fort Wayne.
Electric Works’ summer programming is a way to connect with the community, said Katie Gibson, preservation lead and community builder for Spark Placemaking, an initiative of nonprofit Big Car Collaborative. Spark Placemaking has partnered with Electric Works to develop a series of programming for the site and the surrounding communities.
“Our focus is on the people, figuring out what they want, because they’re the ones who will be affected most. We really need to understand what they want, what their needs are and where they see their neighborhoods going in the future,” Gibson said.
1. There’s still a chance to tour the campus
Small, guided tours are available on a first-come basis and are free of charge. The first round of public tours in May were booked up in less than 24 hours, Gibson said. However, there will be more opportunities to get an up-close look at the former General Electric campus and learn about the vision for its redevelopment. Visit fortwayneelectricworks.com/tour for more details.
2. Weekly events are open to the public
Starting in June, Electric Works will offer destination-themed community walks each Wednesday evening. The walks, which will be 2 miles or less, will start at the Electric Works campus. Each walk will have a different theme such as food and drink and history and preservation. The walks are an opportunity for the community to learn more about the resources and history of the surrounding neighborhood. Did you know McCulloch Park once served as a cemetery? For more information on upcoming events, visit fortwayneelectricworks.com/events.
3. There are several ways to get involved
In addition to attending summer programming, you can stay in the know by signing up for the newsletter on fortwayneelectricworks.com or following the project on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Keep an eye out for a community contact signup sheet at upcoming events, Gibson said.
4. Electric Works wants to hear from you
Members of the public might consider joining one of the projects’ steering committees, which spark ideas for programming. They include food and drink; bike and pedestrian; technology and innovation; history and preservation; neighborhood associations; and arts and culture.
“Our programming ideas come from the community because our steering committees are made up of community members in Fort Wayne,” Gibson said.
People can also share what’s on their wish list for the project at fortwayneelectricworks.com/vision. The project has collected more than 500 ideas on what people want to see, from health care and healthy food to music and museums.
5. Community collaboration is already sparking creative ideas
Gibson said Electric Works is collaborating with local organizations for community events and activities. The goal is to honor the history of the site and engage with nearby residents as the project evolves, she said. Later this summer, Gibson said Electric Works plans to partner with Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation for an event that involves a tour of the Broadway campus and McCulloch Park and a visit to a brewery for beer and trivia on what was learned.
To learn more about the vision for Electric Works, including plans for a year-round farmers market, read “Fort Wayne farmers markets join forces to launch year-round venue” by Gwen Clayton on Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s website fwbusiness.com, a sister publication of IN|fort wayne.