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Upcoming conventions
Grand Wayne Center recently announced five new conventions that were credited, in part, to the existence of the new downtown hotel:
Fort Wayne Dance for All: March 2012-2014, 2013 and 2014
Youth for Christ: Nov. 29-31 and in 2011 and 2012
Ikasucon: July 2011, 2012 and 2013
American Contract Bridge League: October 2012, 2013 and 2014
D&D Experience: 2011, 2012 and 2013
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
A crowd gathers at Wednesday’s grand opening of the Courtyard by Marriott in Harrison Square.

Courtyard by Marriott opens downtown

Sports bar, bridge ready for use as well

– Fort Wayne’s newest downtown destination opened amid much fanfare Wednesday.

Though the Courtyard by Marriott will provide guests a new place to stay and residents a new place to drink and dine, officials said the project shows the vibrancy of the downtown.

“Now more than ever, downtown Fort Wayne is the heart of our community,” Mayor Tom Henry said.

The $25 million, 250-room hotel on the corner of Harrison Street and Jefferson Boulevard is an integral piece of the Harrison Square development, which includes Parkview Field.

The property taxes from the hotel are critical to paying the debts incurred to construct the remainder of the development and the nearby parking garage.

About 100 people will work at the new hotel.

The hotel was touted as a boon to nearby Grand Wayne Center by providing enough top-class rooms to attract large conventions to the city.

The convention center previously announced it will draw several large events this fall with the new hotel. Those include the Youth for Christ event, which will bring more than 1,200 young people to the area in November and in the next two years. The American Contract Bridge League will attract hundreds of bridge players in October 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Part of the ceremony also officially dedicated the Robert Goldstine pedestrian walkway connecting the hotel to the Embassy Theatre building. White Lodging required the bridge be constructed so it could tout covered access to the convention center. The theater has a separate covered walkway to Grand Wayne.

Access to the walkway above Harrison Street requires hotel patrons to go past 19 rooms on its third floor. The walkway is not air-conditioned but has fans to circulate air.

Greg Leatherman, city executive director of redevelopment, said the city hopes to build on the success of the hotel by continuing to focus on downtown improvements.

The initial main focus will be to get The Harrison retail/condominium project complete, but that will not be the end of the work. A new streetscape project near the Renaissance Square building is probably the next project to complete, he said.

The Courtyard includes an exercise room, indoor swimming pool and 6,600 feet of meeting space that includes a 4,200-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate groups of up to 300 people.

The hotel also houses a Champions Sports Bar featuring American cuisine and 20 flat-screen televisions. A 24-hour pantry will also have drinks and sandwiches available at the hotel. The restaurant officially opened to the public Wednesday afternoon.

blanka@jg.net

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