Panel OKs economic plans for downtown

March 13th, 2018

By Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

In three 4-0 votes Monday, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved economic development agreements with Bud Hall, and developers of a planned downtown boutique hotel, while also executing a lease agreement for a planned riverfront parking garage. 

Monday's votes marked the first step in executing agreements for the planned hotel at Harrison and Main streets and for the new Hall's restaurant slated for Harrison and Superior streets, Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said. Those agreements were previously approved by the commission. 

City Councilman Jason Arp and Redevelopment Commission member Steve Corona were absent Monday. 

Oregon-based Provenance Hotels, partnered with Vera Bradley co-founder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, plans to build a $27.7 million five-story hotel with 125 rooms, including nine suites, a hotel restaurant and bar, and retail space. The hotel will also include a rooftop entertainment area, Townsend said.

The project includes tax credits through the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Other public funding includes money from Allen County, the Capital Improvement Board, County Economic Development Income Tax funds, and county-owned land.

The project was previously granted a tax abatement by the Fort Wayne City Council and plans to break ground this summer, Townsend said. 

“These funds will flow to and through the Redevelopment Commission in terms of getting it into the project,” Townsend said. 

Hall's new restaurant near the under-construction Promenade Park will give diners a special view of the downtown riverfront, Hall told the Redevelopment Commission. Hall said he plans to transform the 122-year-old former Cambray and Associates building to complement the riverfront.

“I thought it would be neat to save an old building. We're doing it with the lofts project, we're doing it with The Landing,” Hall said. “I thought this building would complement all that, kind of tie The Landing and Harrison Street and kind of be a nice addition in that area.”

Hall said his current plans include an open-air patio on the second floor and a family-friendly dining area on the ground level.

The restaurant would face Harrison Street.

“If you're dining on that, you'd be overlooking Promenade Park,” Hall said. “Quite frankly, that is the high corner on that intersection and you would be overlooking everything that's happening. You could probably even see the riverboat and stuff.

“The atmosphere would be priceless, probably one of the best views of the river in Fort Wayne.”

Redevelopment Commission President Chris Guerin said he was happy the historic building was able to be saved.

“As someone who's living on Rudisill and seeing two nice old homes ripped down, about which I'm very unhappy, saving this is very important for downtown and the texture of downtown,” Guerin said. 

The Redevelopment Commission also approved a 25-year lease agreement for the parking garage attached to the planned multiuse development at the former Smurfit building site on Superior Street. 

Under the agreement's terms, the city has the option to purchase the parking garage after a fair market value determination once the lease expires, Jon Bomberger, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLC, told the Redevelopment Commission.

Any money paid toward the annual $1.5 million rent payment from the city's Local Income Tax Riverfront fund and the city's County Economic Development Income Tax fund would count toward a dollar-for-dollar credit toward the purchase price, Bomberger said.

Categories Quality of Life