The Embassy Theatre Foundations 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 Waynes 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 commissions commitment puts them nearly halfway toward their goal and will encourage more donations.
Its 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.
The measure was approved 4-0; member Casey Cox was absent and commission chairman Christopher Guerin recused himself from the discussion and the vote because he recently joined the Embassy board.
The commission also voted to approve $1.4 million in reimbursements from a TIF district created this summer for the area near Aboite Center Road and Jefferson Boulevard.
A 14-acre site at the intersection is slated to house a $15 million, 84-bed skilled nursing center. The first $850,000 collected by the TIF will reimburse City Utilities for extending sewers to the area, and the other $564,000 will reimburse the developer for expenses such as entrances, sidewalks and streetlights.
Leatherman said the reimbursement to the developer is long-term, as City Utilities must be repaid first and the money collected will come in slowly because of tax abatements approved for the project.