The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 19, 2011

Re-inventing downtown Enid

$20 million event center project is ongoing

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — The architectural firm chosen to design the $20 million Enid Renaissance project recently showed updated drawings to Enid city commissioners.

The plan to reinvent downtown Enid as a destination area includes building a new event center and renovating Convention Hall.

David Greusel, architect with Convergence Design, presented the updated drawings. The event center’s upper level will be a mezzanine walkway including concessions, restrooms and a VIP suite. A removable basketball court will be on the main level of the building. The center will become the home arena for Enid High School basketball teams.

The event center also could host other athletic events and trade shows.

EHS basketball teams once played at Convention Hall, but the historic building was closed about two years ago since it does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Under the Enid Renaissance project, Convention Hall will be reborn not as an athletic facility but as a facility to host other events. The stage will remain for performances, and the building will include a large ballroom with chandeliers and a link to the event center. The second through fourth floors in Convention Hall will be remodeled into meeting space, with restroom areas.

“This will give the city a full-fledged convention center,” Greusel said.

Plans include removing part of the lower-level seating to create additional ballroom space. The area will be divisible into three spaces for smaller events. He plans a plaza in front of Convention Hall with plantings and paved areas around it for various outdoor events.

The Convention Hall entry will be restored to its original condition with an art deco design and chandeliers in the ballroom.

There also are three options for a hotel developer to consider. The hotel is not part of the Renaissance project, but officials hope a hotel will open in the area. Any hotel would be funded with private money.

The guaranteed maximum cost of the Renaissance project will be in place by April 25 and design work will be finished by July, Greusel said.

Buildings are expected to be finished for both to open in October 2012.

Also as part of the Enid Renaissance project, the city has been buying and demolishing older buildings south of downtown to make the area more attractive.