The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 25, 2013

Days are numbered for Kress Building

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Kress Building facade is coming down.

Despite comments earlier this year from hotel developers with LodgeWell, the city has decided it would cost too much to keep the brick exterior and incorporate it into the downtown hotel.

Demolition on the building is expected to begin within 30 to 45 days, and the city is preparing to advertise a bid for the work. Assistant City Manager Joan Riley said Wednesday when demolition happens, the city will try to preserve elements of the facade the best they can.

“What we’re going to try to keep is things like the Kress name, some various pieces we might incorporate” in another project, Riley said. “It’s not that sturdy. It’s truly just a shell.”

Since initial plans for a downtown hotel and parking garage surfaced, the developers expressed a strong interest to build their Hilton Garden Inn behind the Kress fronting. (See original story HERE)

LodgeWell managing member Dave Mashburn told Enid City Commission in February preserving the Kress Building facade was important, both for Enid’s downtown heritage and for the unique appeal of the hotel.

“We wanted to keep that as part of the heritage of Enid, and we realize how important that is,” he said at the time.

Mashburn’s partner, David Owen, has told the News & Eagle the final decision would be up to the city, though, because the city is responsible for demolition.

Riley said it would be too expensive to preserve the facade intact.

“Of course, trying to do that also adds cost. The conclusion was to salvage what could be incorporated,” she said.

The city has plans to preserve two other design elements.

A bronze statue called “Boomer” that sits in the plaza east of Cherokee Strip Conference Center, which also will be torn down, will be taken to a secure location until a permanent home can be found. Riley said there are a few options available.

“We obviously want to protect it when the building comes down, and we’ll do that,” she said. “If we can make that decision before we have to move it, it would be easier than to move, store and move again, because I have a feeling he’s going to be a little heavy.”

The concrete pavers and memorial tree plaques dedicated to Enid Walk of Fame inductees will be pulled from the ground intact and given to the families, Riley said. New memorials will be placed at a later time.

Financing has been an issue for LodgeWell. Enid City Manager Eric Benson has said a deal with one financial partner fell through, although Owen said Tuesday the project is “progressing well.” Owen declined to comment further when asked who the financial backers are or whether they are local.

The hotel and parking garage will cost approximately $21 million to build, and more than a third of that originally weas going to be from bank loans.

The 95,000-square-foot hotel will be no more than four stories tall and will have at least 131 rooms. It will connect with the rest of Enid Renaissance Project through a walkway to Enid Event Center and Convention Hall.

The parking garage will have at least 250 stalls and will be no higher than four stories.

Any fees Lodgewell would have to pay for permits are waived, and the land — once the buildings are demolished — will be transferred for $10.

The contract also states the city will provide a 10-year, 100 percent rebate for all undedicated sales tax generated in the parking garage retail space.

The city will rent the parking facility and retail space for at least a decade, with the total rental cost being equal to the cost of constructing the parking facility and “all operating and reasonable management fees and expenses.” Upon completion of the 10-year lease term, LodgeWell would transfer ownership of the parking facility to the city.