Kevin Leininger| News-Sentinel
FORT WAYNE, IN - The Embassy Theatre officials want the city to contribute $2 million toward a $10 million plan to convert the attached and long-vacant Indiana Hotel in a downtown showpiece highlighted by a two-story ballroom and rooftop garden.
Embassy Executive Director Kelly Updike and capital campaign Co-Chair Gary Wasson made their pitch to the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission Monday, saying they would like $1 million from the Commission and a similar amount from other city sources.
Although the Commission took no action on their request, Chairman Christopher Guerin noted that the seven-story hotel, which closed in 1971, could jeopardize the long-term vitality of the Embassy if it is not restored and made productive. Updike said the demand for prime downtown space is expected to make the project self-sustaining even in its first year, when a net income of more than $129,000 is projected.
Redevelopment Director Greg Leather said the city could consider a multi-year grant using funds generated by a special downtown taxing district. Legacy and capital improvements funds are also possible.
The Goldstine Foundation announced a $2 million grant in June, and Updike said about $4 million has been raised to date, with a goal of $6 million by the end of the year and “major announcements” possible in the near future, Wasson said.
This would not be the first time the Redevelopment Commission has paid for improvements to the Embassy and hotel, which opened in 1928. In 2007, the city spent more than $1 million on elevators, stairs and the elevated walkway that links the Embassy to the new Courtyards by Marriott Hotel. The project improved future access to the entire hotel and allowed renovations to its third floor, providing an interior connection between the Courtyards and the Grand Wayne Center, which is linked to the Embassy by another walkway.
Updike said Embassy officials are interviewing architects and hope to start construction in the spring, with completion in 2015.
In other business, the Commission agreed to reimburse RCI Development up to $478,000 for construction of a shelter, restrooms and other trail-related facilities north of the firm’s SportONE/Parkview Fieldhouse and Lutheran Health SportsCenter on Ice Way. The money would be generated by property taxes collected from nearby businesses.