Waynedale Political Commentaries


We’re continuing to see positive momentum and private investments in Fort Wayne. I recently joined Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, representatives from Provenance Hotels, elected officials and community leaders to announce a proposal to bring a 125-room boutique hotel to downtown.

The $27.7 million one-of-a-kind specialty hotel would be located on City of Fort Wayne property at the northwest corner of Harrison and Main streets. The project was selected by a team of City of Fort Wayne and community leaders after issuing a request for proposals. Plans call for five floors, restaurants, ground-level retail spaces and a rooftop entertainment space.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley, is working closely with Provenance Hotels’ Bashar Wali and his team to bring an upscale, unique hotel to Fort Wayne. Provenance owns nine boutique hotels, each of which received 2017 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, and just added a tenth property to the portfolio. Barbara will oversee the interior design of the distinctive hotel.

Pending all necessary approvals from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board, City Council and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, construction could start in 2018 with completion in mid-2019.

A 2014 Grand Wayne Convention Center Strategic Analysis conducted by Hunden Partners showed a need for more downtown hotel rooms. The report went on to state that up to 300 downtown hotel rooms are needed and recommended adding a boutique hotel to fill an upscale niche market.

I’m grateful to Barbara and Provenance Hotels for their plans to invest in Fort Wayne and bring us a hotel that will rival specialty hotels around the world. Their vision will complement the exciting things happening throughout our community, such as riverfront development, and will continue to make Fort Wayne a point of destination for businesses and visitors.

Did you know our community has become a recognized leader for establishing and growing a trail network that is making a meaningful impact? Quality of life amenities, such as trails and greenways, are critical in our collective ability to be competitive for jobs, new businesses and strong neighborhoods. By working together, we’ve made tremendous strides in Fort Wayne, Allen County and northeast Indiana in becoming a desirable place to live, work and play.

We recently celebrated the completion of 100 miles in the Fort Wayne/Allen County Trail Network.
The trail network began in the 1970s when Fort Wayne’s Parks and Recreation Department constructed the first phase of the Rivergreenway near the confluence of the City’s three rivers. Shortly after, the first advocacy and fundraising group, the Greenway Consortium, began work to garner support for future expansion of the Rivergreenway.

In the early 2000s, Northwest Allen Trails and Aboite New Trails formed, increased public awareness, raised matching funds and worked closely with City, State and County governments to move trail projects forward.

In 2005, the City of Fort Wayne moved oversight of the trail program to the Public Works Division, a shift that reflected the philosophy that trails were now a mode of transportation. The result was tremendous growth in Fort Wayne’s network of trails and greenways from 20 miles to more than 75 miles in the City limits today. During the same period, New Haven completed connections to the Rivergreenway and beyond, linking neighborhoods and parks. Allen County added trails with road and bridge projects including the connection between Leo/Cedarville and Grabill. The State added trails along the Illinois Road, Dupont Road and Lima Road highway corridors.

The Fort Wayne/Allen County Trail Network is expected to stand at 107 miles by the end of the year and other projects underway will drive that figure to more than 110 miles by this time next year.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer