In Your Corner: New Life For City's Largest Hotel?

By Ryan Elijah

July 22, 2011 Updated Jul 22, 2011 at 8:01 AM EDT

It's been 3 years since Fort Wayne's largest hotel closed down, in part, because of an "In Your Corner" investigation. That undercover look, in 2008, found everything from mold to countless complaints about hotel safety at the Quality Hotel on West Coliseum. Shortly after the report aired an IOSHA investigation wrapped up and the hotel abruptly closed.

Allen County Community Corrections then secured funding to renovate the building for an early release program for offenders, but they have since scrapped those plans for a number of reasons.

The property now has a new owner and a long renovation process has started. In the past few weeks crews have been working to clean-up the property. Fort Wayne currently has over 5000 available rooms covering 50 hotels, in the past 4 years, 8 new hotels have opened, with most of them located along I-69.

During that time, only 2 Allen County hotels have closed, including the former Quality Hotel and the former Holiday Inn downtown. With the opening of those new hotels, there's a concern among many hotel owners that the supply is outpacing demand.

Dan O'Connell, of Visit Fort Wayne said, "I can tell you what other hotel owners feel about it, they don't want more hotel rooms in the community, it's too competitive now, in their minds. We're busy, but we're not busy enough.

Occupancy numbers from Smith Travel Research seem to support the view that some areas are overbuilt. Allen County's occupancy rate is just over 50 percent and down 1 percent from last year. Many officials would like to see these numbers over 60 percent and adding more rooms works against that goal.

The new owner of the property also owns other hotels in the city. He didn't return our call seeking a comment on the plans, so it's unclear when, or if, the hotel might open or how many of the 255 rooms might be renovated.

What is clear, is with the building's age and history of health violations, it will an expensive process. Some experts feel it could cost into the millions to make what was once Fort Wayne's largest hotel competitive again.

Allen County Hotel Occupancy:
2011 (YTD) 50.6
2010 51.3
2009 46.7
2008 53.7
2007 53.8
2006 52.3

New Hotel Developments:
Town Place Suites (89 Rooms) Exit 111 off I-69
Hampton Inn and Suites (78 Rooms) Exit 116 off I-69
Homewood Suites (83 Rooms) Exit 102 off I-69

Courtyard by Marriott (250 Rooms) Harrison Street
Closed: Holiday Inn Downtown (255 Rooms)

Fairfield Inn and Suites (83 Rooms) Exit 111 off I-69
Value Place Hotel (124 Rooms) Exit 116 off I-69

Staybridge Inn and Suites (84 Rooms) Exit 102
Holiday Inn at IPFW (151 Rooms)
Closed: Quality Hotel (255 Rooms)

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