The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 1, 2014

Downtown hotel unveiled to Enid City Commission

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Hilton Garden Inn planned for downtown incorporates elements of the historic Kress Building it replaces, its architect told the Enid City Commission Tuesday.

In drawings unveiled for the first time, the four-story hotel shows brick facades on both frontage streets, Maine and Independence. The corner section has modern, floor-to-ceiling glass walls with what appears to be an open-air patio on top of the third floor.

In the brick facade sections, there are tall rectangular windows topped with lighter-colored keystones, reminiscent of the Kress archways. It has a prominent pedestal structure with signage, which also is similar to the original “Kress” signage. Light-colored stone wraps around the base of the structure.

Architect Jim Lohmeyer said the brick panels honor the building that was demolished to make way for the 131-room hotel.

“We did listen, and we wanted to be respectful of the Kress Building as much as we could,” Lohmeyer said.

The developer, LodgeWell Management LLC, took guidance from city officials on how the hotel should look. Original plans would have used the existing Kress facade as an exterior wall of the hotel, but that was scrapped after it became apparent it would cost too much to save the facade during construction.

“What we’ve tried to do is pick up on the details of the Kress in certain panels,” said Lohmeyer.

The rest, though, will be made from a material known as EIFS, or exterior insulation finishing system.

“It kind of sets the brick apart where we have the detailing reminiscent of the old Kress. It also gives a little bit of variety as opposed to just a brick facade,” Lohmeyer said.

Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell, citing local experts he’s talked with, questioned the lifespan and quality of EIFS, which costs less than brick exteriors. The material, he said, gets beat up in hail storms and can’t be patched without removing the entire facade.

LodgeWell officials countered, noting they have higher-than-normal standards when it comes to EIFS and have hired a specialist to be on-site when it is applied. It can be patched and, if applied correctly, is a good product, they told the commission. EIFS is a common hotel building material and is a part of others Lohmeyer has designed, including the Embassy Suite Hotel in Norman.

Final approval on the exterior design is expected at the next commission meeting in two weeks.

During their meeting Tuesday, commissioners approved several items that will allow LodgeWell and the city to close on the land today. There were some changes to prior agreements, however:

• The city still will guarantee 40 percent occupancy of the hotel for the first seven years, but it was deemed too complicated to allow the city to use the extra rooms they would be paying for. Average hotel occupancy in the city now is 71 percent.

• As a concession, LodgeWell agreed to alter the fee Enid will pay LodgeWell to manage the adjoining 250-space parking garage and retail area, which will be 18,000 square feet. Instead of a $3,500 flat rate, the city will use a sliding scale based on leasing and parking revenue to calculate the fee. Both parties then will equally share any revenue above operating costs. City Manager Eric Benson said this provides an incentive to maximize usage.