Development plans announced for new downtown Fort Wayne hotel

boutique hotel
Photo shows an artist's rendering of a planned boutique hotel in downtown Fort Wayne are unveiled during a news conference held on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)   Details of a plan to develop a boutique hotel in downtown Fort Wayne were unveiled at a Tuesday morning news conference.  Boutique hotels are typically upscale, small in size and occupy urban areas.

The news conference took place at the Ash Skyline Plaza where it was announced Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley, is working with Portland Oregon based Provenance Hotels to develop the hotel.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard announces plans for a downtown boutique hotel during a news conference on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.
Barbara Bradley Baekgaard announces plans for a downtown boutique hotel during a news conference on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

Baekgaard and Provenance Hotels are working with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and city officials to pick a site for the hotel.  All locations for the development are located in what was described as the “heart of the city.”

The hotel would feature 110 to 120 rooms with restaurants and meeting rooms.  Room rates would be on the high end of what’s currently available in Fort Wayne. The hotel is expected to be open in 2019 with an estimated cost of $27 million.

“My intention is to create a place that’s unique to Fort Wayne and reflects the pride we have in our city. A place where our community can come together to do business, celebrate life’s special moments and connect on a regular basis – that’s what Provenance Hotels does best,” said Barbara Bradley Baekgaard.

Once operational, the hotel is expected to employ about 100 people.

This is professional and personal for Baekgaard. She’s brought on some of her Vera Bradley team to help make what she calls ‘her dream’ a reality.

“I did raise all my children here, and a lot of my grandchildren are here too,” she said. “So, I don’t want you to think it’s all about business. It’s all about dear friends and family too.”

“We know when we can attract talent into the city usually the first thing they experience is the hotel,” Vera Bradley CEO Rob Wallstrom said. “They fly in at night, they come in, they go from the airport and they go to the hotel. It’s beginning to set a stage for them as to what they feel about the city.”

To get an idea where Baekgaard’s dream came from, take a look at the Firmdale Hotels in New York City and London. She told the group they are her favorite hotel and inspired this dream. Provenance Hotels President Bashar Wali also said those hotels are some of his favorite too.

Provenance Hotels said there’s been significant private equity lined up for this project. However, a privately and publicly funded project is not being ruled out. In a statement, City Spokesman John Perlich said:

“It’s encouraging that there continues to be interest from the private sector in investing in Fort Wayne. It’s a sign that the positive momentum we’ve been experiencing is continuing and our community is moving in the right direction. Any possible involvement from the City of Fort Wayne hasn’t been determined at this time.”