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Posted on Wed. Dec. 18, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

New owners hope to boost once-prominent former Marriott Hotel

Braveheart Investments have also purchased vacant Navistar engineering center

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Another project in the works

A new use hasn't been identified yet, but Braveheart Investments has acquired its second hi-profile Fort Wayne property, partner Bill Bean said: the former Navistar engineering center on Meyer Road. The facility is well-equipped to accommodate hi-tech or engineering needs, Bean said, and he hopes to find a tenant soon

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In 1976, President Richard Nixon slept there.

Four years later, national Urban League President Vernon Jordan was shot in the back there.

Built in 1969 as a Marriott Inn, the 222-room facility at 305 E. Washington Center Road was perhaps the city's premier hotel until newer competitors downtown and elsewhere challenged its status. Now new owners hope a new name and perhaps new features will help what is now called Hotel Fort Wayne reclaim some of its pizzazz.

It's a part of Fort Wayne, and one of only a few full-service hotels in town. We'll take a hard look at securing a national brand, and we'll develop a strategic (marketing) plan and a plan for capital needs,” said developer Bill Bean, who with business partner Bruce Dye recently formed Braveheart Investments, which bought the hotel from Azar's Inc. last week through a foreclosure sale at what bean called a “very attractive price.”

The hotel's lenders filed for foreclosure in 2012 after Azar's Inc. couldn't repay a $14 million loan. Bean said the facility lost the Marriott franchise because the previous owners didn't complete all the upgrades Marriott wanted.

“But they completed about 70 percent of them. (Azar's) did a marvelous job of maintaining the hotel. All the rooms have been upgraded, with flat-screen TVs and wireless communications,” said Bean, who is also part of a $71 million downtown project that will include a new headquarters for Ash Brokerage as well as apartments, condominiums and townhouses. The facility has received at least $3.8 million in improvements since 2007.

Although a name change seems certain, Bean said the acquisition of a national brand is not a necessity. Although a brand would be helpful when attracting travelers and out-of-town bookings, a more locally focused identity could help attract guests already in the area.

As a full-service hotel, the facility offers 24-hour hour gym and food service, Bean said, as well as meeting rooms and other amenities. The hotel boasts 18,000 square feet of convention and meeting space and two attached restaurants, Red River Steakhouse and Rum Runner Lounge, which Braveheart has also purchased.

With its proximity to Interstate 69 but still close to downtown, Glenbrook Square and other attractions, Bean said the hotel has great potential, assuring continued work for its 52 employees and possibly more later.

“I just believe in investing in Fort Wayne,” Bean said.

kleininger@news-sentinel.com


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