By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid city commissioners approved a development agreement with LodgeWell Development LLC, during their meeting Thursday night, clearing the way for construction of the $14 million downtown hotel.
The vote was 5-1, with Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen dissenting.
LodgeWell will own and operate the Hilton Garden Inn hotel.
Some items were held out of the agreement approved Thursday, and will be negotiated separately. Those items include a development fee, parking garage agreement for the hotel, reciprocal easement, any possible development incentives and an occupancy rate guarantee. Enid currently is averaging 80-90 percent occupancy in its hotels. City Manager Eric Benson said indicators show that trend will continue for the next four to five years.
An agreement for a parking garage or a parking lot with 131 spaces for hotel use is in the contract. Commissioners discussed possible city construction and ownership of a parking garage, at a cost of $3.5 million to $4.5 million.
The hotel will be four stories tall, and the city will pay the cost of demolition of Cherokee Strip Conference Center and gutting the interior of the Kress Building. The facade of the Kress Building will remain and be incorporated into the hotel, LodgeWell’s Dave Mashburn said.
As part of the discussion, city attorney Andrea Springer said although LodgeWell will build the hotel and adjoining commercial space, the city will own the commercial space. During the discussion of the parking garage, Janzen said he had not been given a copy of the new contract and could not vote for something he had not read.
Later in the meeting, Benson apologized to Janzen, saying he thought the contract had been sent to all commissioners, but found it did not go to Janzen.
The unresolved items will be negotiated and brought back to the commission for approval at a later date.
In the other big item on the agenda, commissioners discussed the $50 million parks plan, or quality-of-life initiative, that comes to a public vote March 5. Whitney Box, director of strategic and long-range planning for the city, went over the project and explained what it would include during a lengthy discussion.
Enid voters will be asked to approve two issues, one a $30 million ad valorem tax issue, and the second a half-cent sales tax increase for five years to raise $20 million. Money will be used to upgrade city parks and build two new parks.
Enid developer Bob Berry spoke against the initiative. He asked for the parks plan to be delayed and the city to cancel the March 5 vote.
He asked that new commissioners, who will take office in May, participate in fine tuning of the master parks plan, then call for a fall vote. If the city won’t do that, he asked that Ward 3 Commissioner Lewis Blackburn and Ward 4 Commissioner Drew Ritchie immediately resign, and allow their successors to take office. Ward 6 Commissioner Todd Ging resigned his office because of a job promotion that left him less time to devote to commission work, and Ging asked that commissioner-elect David Vanhooser be appointed to his position.
At the end of the meeting, Blackburn angrily announced he was not resigning “just because Bob Berry thinks I should.”
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved an emergency ordinance amending the Enid Municipal Code to increase prices at Meadowlake Golf Course.
• Agreed to waive the city purchasing policy requirement for competitive bidding to purchase a wheel scraper for use in the landfill. Benson said the scraper has been rented by the city, and the company will allow the rental payments to be payments toward the purchase.
• Approved ordinances amending the Municipal Fire Code and adopting the International Fuel Gas Code, International Building Code, International Existing Building Code, International Mechanical Code, International Plumbing Code and National Electric Code.
• Approved consent items, including purchasing video boards, scorers table and marquee for Enid Event Center.