City backs Embassy hotel revamp

September 10th, 2013

News Coverage:

Published: September 10, 2013 3:00 a.m.

City backs Embassy hotel revamp

Redevelopers pledge $750,000 in tax district funds

Dan Stockman | The Journal Gazette

The Embassy Theatre Foundation’s efforts to bring new life to the long-defunct Indiana Hotel got a $750,000 boost Monday.

Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission members voted to spend money from the Civic Center Tax Increment Finance district on the project to create within the seven-story building a two-story ballroom able to seat 300 people; a rooftop garden and bar overlooking Fort Wayne’s revitalized downtown; and administrative offices, a rehearsal studio and more dressing rooms for the Embassy Theatre.

The project is estimated to cost about $10 million. Embassy officials said the commission’s commitment puts them nearly halfway toward their goal and will encourage more donations.

“It’s important for some private donors to see the public sector stepping up,” said Gary Wasson, an Embassy board member and co-chairman of the capital campaign.

The money from the commission will come from the fund for the TIF district covering the area, which uses the increase in property taxes paid by new development to pay for capital improvements within the district. Usually, those improvements are infrastructure improvements that enabled the development in the first place, such as sewers or roads, but the money can also be spent on improvements that have a public benefit.

Embassy officials had asked the commission for $1 million. Commission executive director Greg Leatherman said $750,000 was the amount the staff believed was appropriate but that officials could come back later and ask for more.