The hotel development consists of a full service $25 million, 250-room Courtyard by Marriott convention center hotel with 3 meal restaurant connected to the Grand Wayne Convention Center via a conditioned skywalk through the historic Embassy Theater. The hotel is the critical initial component of Harrison Square, an economic redevelopment project led by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Agency, White Lodging, Acquest and Barry Real Estate. Harrison Square is a mixed-use public/private partnership consisting of the hotel, a $30 million minor-league baseball stadium for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps, 180 phased condos, 90,000 SF of phased retail/commercial, a 900-car parking garage and numerous public parks.
As the result of a competitive RFP process, in 2007 an Acquest-led Development Team was awarded the right to negotiate for the development rights of the hotel component of the Harrison Square redevelopment project by the City of Ft. Wayne Redevelopment Agency. The City had recently expanded its convention center facility, The Grand Wayne, to over 200,000 SF but because of the limited number of hotel rooms in proximity to the Grand Wayne and an inability to negotiate enough dedicated rooms within the Hilton headquarter hotel given its limited size, the facility was underperforming. Initially, the City was seeking a 350 room full service hotel and offered numerous incentives to the private sector to induce its development. Acquest modeled the performance of the proposed hotel inclusive of the proposed City subsidy and determined, through discussions with investors and other sources of equity in the hotel industry, that the only option for the city, given the inability of the proposed hotel to provide a reasonable market rate of return to the private sector, was for the City to consider owning the hotel or modifying its scope to overcome the economic gap in its cost versus value. In collaboration with White Lodging, an economically viable scope was conceived after an analysis of the market and future needs of the Grand Wayne.
Subsequently, a development agreement was hammered out over several months between Acquest, White and the City including the agreed upon public participation in the project. The Redevelopment Agency had assembled a TIF District which allowed for the bonding of infrastructure improvements for the project and site acquisition. Additionally, the City was able to negotiate a package of state tax credits totaling $6 million which, when combined with the partial recapture of the prospective hotel’s room tax and property tax abatement facilitated a market return for the private investment equity needed.