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$6 million hotel could replace city's off-track gambling facility

But Hoosier Park looking to relocate and rebrand the operation

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 9:52 am

A new hotel could soon replace the facility that brought off-track betting to Fort Wayne nearly 20 years ago.

Jason Patel of Jaikar LLC filed plans with the city's Board of Zoning Appeals this week to build a 110-room, $6 million hotel at 1820 W. Washington Center Road – the site of the Hoosier Park's gambling facility since 1995. Patel, who said he also operates the Hampton Inn on Dupont Road, said the Hoosier Park facility would probably be razed to make room for the proposed four-story hotel.

Patel said its Fort Wayne gambling facility would likely be relocated, possibly to the New Haven area.

There are already several other hotels adjacent to the proposed site, but BZA approval is needed because the proposed four stories would exceed the 35-foot height limit imposed by the property's zoning. The project would not be possible without the proposed variance, Patel said, because the added square footage would provide the additional rooms needed to offset the cost of construction and operation.

Patel is still seeking a franchise for the facility, construction of which could begin next year. The hotel could create more than 35 full- and part-time jobs, he added.

By 1999, about $68,000 in bets were being placed every day at the facility, which at the time was called the Churchill Downs Sports Spectrum. – a 16 percent increase from 1995 levels. Company officials had hoped for $75,000 per day, however. In 2010, Hoosier Park's parent company, Centaur LLC, filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

In a statement, Hoosier Park said it has no plans to close its local operation but is exploring options to relocate and “re-brand” the business.

The BZA could rule on Patel's request next month.