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City boosts BAE’s move near airport

– The process of greasing the wheels for BAE Systems to move its 1,000 jobs to land near the airport – rather than out of state – continued Monday as a city agency approved a deal for a road for the new plant.

Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission members voted unanimously to approve a deal for an $800,000 road to serve the property where British defense contractor BAE Systems plans a new $39 million manufacturing plant, keeping 1,000 jobs in Fort Wayne.

Executive Director Greg Leatherman said the developer’s initial plans for the 68 acres at Ardmore Avenue and Airport Expressway had just one entrance and exit, which officials said would be inadequate for the large number of employees. In addition, a new road would create opportunities for development of the rest of the land there.

Currently, BAE rents a factory from General Electric on Taylor Street.

Last month, the redevelopment commission approved using $2 million from the airport tax increment finance district covering the area to provide incentives for the move. TIF districts take the new property taxes generated by development within their borders to pay for infrastructure within that district, such as the streets or sewers that made the development possible. That TIF has about $4 million available.

The same day the commission approved its $2 million, the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board approved $2.5 million for incentives. Usually, the incentives the commission uses are infrastructure improvements that benefit property owners, such as sewer lines, sidewalks or street lights. But BAE is a renter, and the commission wants to ensure the incentives benefit the company, not just its landlord.

Leatherman said because of that, the incentives will likely be similar to those created for SIRVA in 2004, which had local government finance equipment for the relocation and logistics company.

The City Council last week approved a larger-than-usual property tax break for property owner Scannell Properties. Instead of gradually phasing in the property taxes over 10 years, Scannell will pay nothing on $3.2 million worth of equipment BAE plans to install the first five years, then pay 50 percent of the tax in year five, 60 percent in year six, and so on. It will pay no property taxes on the $39 million land and building for 10 years. Altogether, the measure will save the company about $13.2 million over the decade.

dstockman@jg.net

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