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

For a century, the Normal Electric powered campus near downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, served as a symbol of the city’s industrial may. At its peak, in the late months of Planet War II, the campus utilized 40% of the city’s wage earners. 

GE departed the campus in 2014, but the hulking structures it still left guiding were hardly ever razed. Now they are becoming reborn as an bold multi-stage redevelopment known as Electric Works. 

Historical picture.

Permission granted by Weigand Building/archival picture


The initial phase of building, which commenced in January and is slated for completion upcoming tumble, will generate new headquarters for Indiana’s greatest private business, Do It Very best Corp., as effectively as room earmarked for instructional and well being treatment facilities. Also unveiled will be Union Road Sector, Northeast Indiana’s very first meals hall and community sector, featuring a lot more than 20 retailers as well as a weekly farmer’s marketplace. A 2nd period of redevelopment will follow.

Fort Wayne-primarily based Weigand Construction is serving as design supervisor on the redevelopment of 10 present West Campus buildings encompassing about 730,000 square toes, all on a rapidly-observe routine, mentioned CEO Larry Weigand.

“Bringing alongside one another all the financing associates took a tiny for a longer time than what we desired,” he claimed. “We also fully commited to some of the tenants, like Do It Best, which desired to be in by the close of 2022. That induced a compression of the program.”

Staging supplies and devices on the dense city website near a residential region proved an additional obstacle. All development resources are initially shipped to and pulled collectively in an East Campus bullpen, then escorted to the right properties on the West Campus on an as-necessary basis, reported Weigand Job Manager Cody Michaud.

Building very last month.

Permission granted by Weigand Development


Federal and point out historic tax credits aided make the $286 million initial stage possible. That indicates the Nationwide Park Service and Indiana State Historic Preservation Office must consistently keep an eye on the operate. “We constructed that into the plan,” Michaud reported. 

“You have to treat that as a procurement guide time. We operate hand in hand with the owner’s historic tax credit rating consultant, Heritage Consulting,” he explained. “They visit the work web site month-to-month and stroll the occupation with us each month to make sure what is remaining installed is in accordance with the tax credit score bucks.”

Presented the COVID-19-era materials shortages, Weigand Building went to appreciable lengths to pre-acquire supplies, this sort of as electrical conduit and piping constructions. 

“Objects we realized experienced a content lead time have been pre-procured,” Michaud explained. “All the light-weight fixtures for the substantial properties ended up pre-obtained, as had been the plumbing fixtures.”

Building proceeded final thirty day period on Making 20, which will household portion of the Union Street Industry as very well as business room.

Permission granted by Weigand Development


At just about every flip, Weigand Development and Durham, N.C.-based developer Ancora have sought to make sure the reinvigorated campus will boast lots of nods to the site’s background. For decades, the illuminated Standard Electric powered logo, recognized by a lot of as “the gumball,” had towered brightly around the campus. GE carted absent the gumball in 2015 following the structures were being offered. But a new illuminated Electric powered Works sign, alongside a Do It Ideal sign, will be put in atop one of the properties as a hyperlink to the past.

“You will be able to see them from miles absent,” Weigand stated. “That was intentional.”

Historical picture.

Authorization granted by Weigand Design/archival photograph


The restoration of the masonry blanketing 120,000 sq. ft of vertical wall is this sort of a key part of the get the job done that Weigand split the restoration between firms headquartered in Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Indiana, and Lima, Ohio that specialize in historic initiatives involving masonry, Weigand claimed. 

“There are not a large amount of tradesmen working in this approach, and they are in demand from customers all over the Midwest. To have the right sum of operate carried out, we had to divide the get the job done,” he said. “Due to the fact it was a compressed routine for this essential job, we had to work on several elevations of multiple buildings at the identical time.”

Windows were being an monumental ingredient of the original structures, and thanks to historic window substitute they will be just as crucial an ingredient of the redevelopment. The new home windows Wiegand Construction teams are setting up are actual reproductions of the authentic home windows, and will have the best R-worth of the overall wall system.

In a further nod to historical past, Electric Functions will function enjoyment solutions that incorporate a revitalized and modernized gymnasium and bowling alley, which have been section of the leisure offerings in the “GE Club” crafted in 1927 for GE’s employees.

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

Permission granted by Weigand Construction


The range of Weigand Construction to regulate the task created feeling given the company’s deep Fort Wayne roots and its working experience in earlier adaptive reuse tasks. Started in 1906, Weigand Construction is a $300 million-a-12 months firm that has expanded past Northeast Indiana to Michigan and Ohio. 

A professional in health and fitness care, wellness, education and learning, industrial and industrial development, the company crafted award-successful Parkview Discipline, house of the city’s Course A Minimal League Baseball team, which is credited with helping spark the city’s downtown renaissance in the last 15 yrs.

Weigand Development also has helmed main adaptive reuse initiatives in the downtown district, which include redevelopment of the historic Embassy Theatre and adjacent Indiana Resort. A last thing to consider in its collection was the company’s intense strategy to job safety.

“Our [mission statement] is that ‘We make landmarks that effect the life and communities that we serve,'” Weigand, the firm’s fourth-era CEO, reported. “There couldn’t be a better suit than this project, due to the fact this will generationally effect life and communities.”

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