Mayor Graham Richard today announced the conclusion of successful negotiations between the City of Fort Wayne and key Harrison Square development entities.

A memorandum of understanding has been reached between the City and Hardball Capital, LLC/Barry Real Estate Companies, LLC toward the development of Harrison Square'€™s new downtown condominiums, retail space and ballpark. A similar understanding with Acquest Realty Advisors, Inc./Acquest Development, Inc. and White Lodging Services Corporation has also been achieved in pursuit of a new downtown hotel.

The memoranda represent agreements in principle defining the broad framework for the development of these central components of the downtown catalyst project. Harrison Square includes a new parking garage in addition to the new downtown housing, shops, ballpark, and hotel described in these documents.

“The successful negotiation of agreements with Acquest/White Lodging and Barry Real Estate/Hardball Capital signals real progress in the development of Harrison Square,” said Mayor Richard. “These partnerships will bring significant private investment into Fort Wayne strengthening the heart of our community, making it a regional destination and enabling us to retain and gain jobs. We are building a better city and a brighter future for generations to come."

The two draft documents will be addressed by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission at its meeting at 4:30 p.m. today in Room 128 of the City-County Building.  The commission is empowered to take action on behalf of the City in these matters.  Pending consideration by the commission, the agreements will be detailed as part of the full Harrison Squarepresentation scheduled to be made to Fort Wayne City Council at its Tuesday, April 17 meeting at 5:30 p.m. in Room 128 of the City-County Building.

Summary highlights of the two memoranda of understanding are as follows: Ballpark/Condominiums/Retail:
*The ballpark'€™s design and features will be mutually agreed upon between the City and Hardball Capital. The ballpark will be designed for multiple uses. Hardball Capital will commit $5 million toward the construction of the ballpark. The license agreement between the City and Hardball Capital will be for 20 years with two, five-year options.
*The City will commit $1.45 million in infrastructure investments for each phase of condominium and retail components that are constructed.
*The ballpark will be scheduled for completion prior to opening day of the 2009 baseball season. The condo and retail components will be completed at approximately the same time. Construction of the ballpark is targeted to begin by September 1, 2007.
*Hardball Capital will be responsible for operating maintenance of the ballpark.
*The City will establish a Capital Maintenance Fund to cover repairs and long-term maintenance of the ballpark.
*Hardball Capital will collect all revenues from events held by Hardball Capital. The City will receive 50% of naming rights revenues up to $300,000 per year and 100% of revenues in excess of $300,000 per year. The City will receive a portion of ticket revenues. The City will receive all revenues related to community events. Revenue streams cited from the City will be placed into the Capital Maintenance Fund.

*Development team will provide design, financing, construction, and operation of the hotel. The Redevelopment Commission will be responsible for the design, financing, construction, and operation of the parking garage.
*All parties will work together to maximize Community Revitalization Enhancement District (CRED) tax credits.
*A 10-year real estate property tax abatement in the maximum amount allowed by state law will be provided to the development team.
*A personal property tax abatement on information technology for a term and amount as authorized by state law will be provided to the development team.
*The commission will dedicate not less than $1 million for infrastructure and streetscape improvements.
*The commission will work to permit the hotel to receive a portion of innkeeper taxes generated by the hotel for a negotiated period time.

These private-public partnerships and the realization of the Harrison Square project will bring nearly $68 million of new, private investment into the heart of the city, an area that until recently had seen only $2 million of private investment in a decade prior to the investment by Fort Wayne Newspapers. In its first phase, the $125 million project features 51% private investment balanced by 49% of public sector investment.

In separate action, resolutions have been submitted to City Council requesting approval of the allocation of CEDIT and Cumulative Cap funds as well as approving the expansion of the Jefferson/Illinois Economic Development Area.

When approved, these memoranda in conjunction with the items before City Council, will allow the City, Hardball Capital/Barry Real Estate and Acquest/White Lodging to begin discussions on actual development agreements, the binding documents necessary for construction to begin.

Barry Real Estate is a dynamic and multifaceted commercial real estate firm specializing in project development, marketing and management. It has an award-winning track record with an affinity for mixed-use projects in urban areas. Hardball Capital is an Atlanta-based company that invests in and operates baseball-related businesses. It is the owner of the Fort Wayne Wizards.

Acquest Realty/Acquest Development and White Lodging Services are both leaders in the hospitality industry with specific expertise as premier developers, owners and operators of leading-brand hotels in multiple segments.