By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
By the end of today, a large and colorful buffalo will have moved a couple of blocks.
Behind it will be the office of Visit Enid, and the people who run the city’s “destination marketing” agency.
Visit Enid officials have known they couldn’t stay in the Kress Building forever. About two weeks ago, though, they learned the time had come for them to box up the banners, the gift shop, their desks and the fiberglass Spirit of the Buffalo sculpture to make way for a downtown hotel.
The agency promotes tourism to Enid and is managed by Global Spectrum, which is contracted through the city to operate the nearby Enid Event Center and Convention Hall.
A 131-room Hilton Garden Inn being built by LodgeWell Group will complete the tourism trifecta, Visit Enid Rob Houston said Monday. Placing all three in one location, he added, would make Enid more attractive to groups planning large conventions.
And ever since Visit Enid’s first day in November 2010, they’ve known they would have to move someday.
“Once the city council gave their blessing for (the hotel), then we absolutely knew we were going to be moving because the construction was going to be right here,” Houston said. “We didn’t know how, when or where.”
But around the first of July, the city finished renovations on another building nearby, at 201 W. Garriott — the former Junior Welfare League’s Return Engagement consignment store. All that was left was to pick a mover and set a date.
“That will be a very good location for us, to be right on the main thoroughfare in and out of Enid,” said Houston. “When we bring visitors to town, we want to be as visible as we can to those people passing through.”
Visit Enid has spent nearly three years at 123 W. Maine, and Houston said the three-person staff will miss it.
“This has been really good to us,” he said. “If you ever have your first home it’s always sad to leave it. But we’re going to make way for progress and progress is a good thing, because we need a hotel down here.”
Director Marcy Jarrett said she is looking forward to the “adventures” awaiting their new office, which is at the corner of Independence and Garriott.
“This building, formerly Kress Department Store and the Cherokee Strip Conference Center, has brought Enid many great memories — and helped Visit Enid showcase Enid to travelers,” she said.
Houston said he plans on placing volunteer staff at both locations Tuesday, while the movers shuttle the office in one fell swoop.
“I don’t know how many moves it’ll take, one or two, depending upon our buffalo out there,” he said of the brightly painted yet unwieldy sculpture, which weighs more than 100 pounds. “They’ll find that’s a bear to move.”
Visit Enid is one of two public entities that must move out of the Kress Building. Public-access television station PEGASYS has plans to move to The Non-Profit Center at 114 S. Independence. The station cannot sign a contract, however, because it still is waiting on city approval of $240,000 in moving expenses, which could be voted on at tonight’s Enid City Commission meeting.