Council votes to give $750,000 of Legacy fund to Embassy for renovation plans

December 4th, 2013

News Coverage:

Published: December 4, 2013 3:00 a.m.

Council votes to give $750,000 of Legacy fund to Embassy for renovation plans

Dan Stockman | The Journal Gazette

FORT WAYNE – City Council members Tuesday voted to give $750,000 in Legacy Fund money to the Embassy Theatre’s proposed $10 million renovation of the long-defunct Indiana Hotel.

The plans are highlighted by a two-story ballroom able to seat 300 people and a roof-top garden and bar overlooking the city’s revitalized downtown.

Embassy officials have raised $5.8 million, including $750,000 from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission’s dedication of money from a special tax district.

“This is basically the final stage of a 40-year project,” said Gary Wasson, an Embassy board member and co-chairman of the capital campaign, who noted that efforts to do something with the hotel date to the 1970s when the community raised money to save the Embassy from being turned into a parking lot.

Executive Director Kelly Updike said the Embassy is at capacity and needs the space, and a conservative estimate shows the space will be self-sustaining after construction.

The plan calls for converting the sixth and seventh floors of the seven-story building into a two-story ballroom with balconies and a grand staircase. The fourth floor would become administrative offices, and the space they now occupy on the second floor would become a public space, such as a lounge. The fifth floor would become a rehearsal studio and classrooms. Some undeveloped space in the lower level near the backstage dressing rooms could become more dressing rooms.

Council members voted 6-3 to approve the spending; six votes are needed for Legacy Fund projects. The fund comes from the lease and sale of the city’s old electric utility and is dedicated to projects with potential to transform the community.