Best Banks In Fort Wayne – The first phase of the Electric Works project will give life to 700,000 square meters of historic buildings… [+] with offices and commercial spaces.
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In 2020, the first phase of the $286 million Electric Works project opened in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Do It Best was founded in 1945 to serve lumber and building material dealers in the surrounding tri-state area.
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While Do It Best was not the first or largest employer in this market, keeping the company in town was the catalyst for the Electric Works project today.
More than 65 years before Do It Best moved to Fort Wayne, GE began manufacturing there, grew to 25,000 employees, nearly a third of Fort Wayne’s workforce, and created a sprawling manufacturing campus. GE ended up dismantling its buildings and nearly all of its employees left in 2009, leaving a huge void for the city to fill.
The Electric Works project came about when Do It Best, the largest private company in the state of Indiana, was looking for another location, according to Ellen Cutter, director of economic development for Greater Fort Wayne.
As one of the nation’s largest distributors of building products, Do It Best’s original location on a railroad and major state highway made it ideal for distribution and served as a very useful location for many years.
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“Currently, our office has moved from our original warehouse built in 1947, surrounded by railroad tracks and industrial buildings,” says Dan Starr, CEO of Do It Best. “For a corporate headquarters, we’re not actively doing any distribution or warehousing, it’s no longer an ideal place, with departments and workgroups often isolated from each other.”
In addition, Do It Best was becoming a technology company and with this transition it had to change its approach to attracting talent. A better facility is key to hiring the right people.
“Fort Wayne has been home since our founding in 1945,” Starr said. “Our roots are here. We have an exceptional team in Fort Wayne, and we don’t want to disrupt that dynamic or the culture we’ve worked so hard to nurture and grow. But we know that attracting and retaining the next generation of Do It Best team members requires a different approach.
Do It Best is considering eight different markets as locations for its new international headquarters, which coincides with its distribution centers, said John Urbans, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne. So Fort Wayne had to be strategic in preparing incentives to retain a long-term partner, which is how the Electric Works project evolved.
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“We take the approach of having a high quality of life and a low cost of living, and we focus on projects that the private sector will invest in,” Arbans said. “We are focused on continuing to diversify the economic base that supports Fort Wayne. A lot of growth is in aerospace and defense, manufacturing with GE and e-commerce logistics.
One thing these companies have in common is attracting tech talent. Fort Wayne’s investment in the $100 million Electric Works project and waterfront development represents its commitment to being an attractive choice for high-quality living with high-quality jobs.
After several major investments in city improvements, such as a new baseball park, improved walkability, and improved public infrastructure, the city began to attract private investors. Also, as Cutter pointed out, the city was able to attract the largest state redevelopment tax credit in history for the Electric Works project. Because of this reinvestment, Fort Wayne has had six consecutive years of positive immigration, making it the fastest growing region in the Great Lakes region.
“We wanted a space that would appeal to our current and future team members that would support our collaborative work environment,” Starr said of the company’s search for the perfect location for its headquarters. “In terms of electrical work, there aren’t many options that fit what we want to accomplish in Fort Wayne. It met a lot of the requirements that we did for the rehab.
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“I know each of the new team members personally and consistently. Electric Works is one of the reasons why they consider us as an employer,” he said. “The response from our team and current candidates has been overwhelmingly positive. Electric Works has given us visibility into candidate pools that we otherwise wouldn’t have reached today. The attention and interest it’s gotten is really exciting.”
An overview of the Electric Works project shows how the redevelopment of GE’s early 20th century manufacturing facilities is reinventing the Fort Wayne area… [+].
Do It Best is slated to move into its new 200,000-square-foot, 700,000-square-foot Phase One project in October. This is not a simple change as the organization is much more involved than the average tenant.
“Without Do It Best as the anchor tenant, this project would not have happened,” said Larry Wiegand, CEO of Wiegand Construction, a minority part of the development team. “They took a leap of faith to be a base tenant. We basically looked at the specs with Do It Best to put their products at the core and at the shell. They’re competitive and have a good supply chain and a good ability to meet deadlines and schedules.
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Cody Michaud, Wiegand’s senior project manager, said Electric Works was able to leverage Do It Best’s global buying power on large lumber purchases, reducing risk during times of peak lumber price volatility. The work has been enabled to store pre-purchased wood, which allows the project to be brought forward in the face of the increase in wood prices.
“We worked with Do It Best and the various departments at their hardware sites, and they set up an office on the project,” Michaud said. “We created a list of commonly used materials and stocked them on site, so we had the material when we needed it—from nails to reinforced tape to visco. We also achieved cost reduction along with reduced travel time while supporting an anchor tenant instead of big boxes.
Starr said Do It Best was a perfect fit to be part of the remodeling project, noting that an on-site tool stand provided the construction crew with hand and power tools, work equipment, paint and other hardware supplies to keep the project going. is ongoing
Unfortunately, this fortunate relationship did not completely insulate the project from supply chain issues. But Wiegand’s team prepared for it by cultivating relationships and bringing in partners early in the design process to secure resources. A relationship- and community-driven approach allowed the 400-person team to provide the necessary labor as well as the pre-purchase of nearly $7 million in equipment, including roof insulation, air conditioning and elevators, ready for the site. Installation.
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Another challenge is that the project is a historic preservation project, and with century-old buildings nothing is normal. For each part of the project, Wiegand’s team had to prepare and submit a mortar sample mock-up to state and federal conservation agencies, in addition to other intensive approvals for each activity.
Wiegand was able to reproduce the wooden forms of some buildings built in 1917 that did not have plywood or modern forms.
“We have great respect for maintaining the historical integrity of what happened on the old GE campus, and we’re bringing that history to our new location,” Starr said. “Our offices highlight American ingenuity in manufacturing right now, not overshadow it.”
This process is definitely not stuck in the past. Wiegand used BIM during the two-year pre-construction process to understand what was behind each wall, conducting extensive on-site investigations along with exploratory demolition. This technology-focused process made it easy for partners to gather bid package details, which extended to a photo diary of all materials entering and exiting the estimating program.
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According to the Zimmerman/Volk Associates Housing Market Potential 2021 study, Fort Wayne’s population is 265,615 in 2021 and is expected to grow by 3% over the next 5 years. The report puts Fort Wayne’s median household income at $53,300, which is dramatically lower (27% lower) than the national median reported by the U.S. Census Bureau of $67,521.
More than 13% of all homes in Fort Wayne were built since 2000, and nearly 70% of homes are single-family homes. Urbans said the city is in the middle of a zoning conversation to maintain affordability.
“The affordability gap in Fort Wayne is growing and we need to make sure