The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 22, 2013

Union vote remains on Nov. 12 ballot; Kress Building coming down but retaining elements


ENID, Okla. — Kress facade

City officials also voted to demolish the Kress building.

LodgeWell, the company that will build and operate a proposed Hilton Garden Inn and parking garage on the location of the Kress building and Cherokee Strip Conference Center, recently notified the city the Kress building’s original brickwork and mortar were badly decomposed. The city’s engineer confirmed the findings and the issue was brought before the commission Tuesday.

The original brick is on the interior of the Kress building. The exterior that is visible is a newer structure built on top of the original.

LodgeWell initially agreed to save the facade and incorporate it into the hotel’s design at the behest of the commission.

Three proposals ultimately were introduced at Tuesday’s special meeting. The first two didn’t get enough votes to succeed, but Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen’s proposal to demolish the structure earned support from everyone except Wilson and Ward 3’s Ben Ezzell.

“Enid gave up on their historic downtown buildings years and years ago,” Janzen said. “Places like Guthrie have retained virtually every one of their downtown buildings intact. Enid has virtually none.”

Wilson countered, saying Janzen supported keeping Convention Hall, which was remodeled as part of the Renaissance Project.

“It was a perfectly viable building,” Janzen said. “This is not a viable building. We’re talking about a front, a reconstructed front, which to me has no historic value whatsoever.”

The other two proposals would have kept the existing front of the Kress building intact, either fully or with just the second story facade in place.

Benson said after the meeting the decision will allow LodgeWell to incorporate some of the materials from the building into a design that honors the appearance of the Kress building. City commissioner will have final say on how the hotel looks.

Benson also said any remaining materials could be distributed to interested parties. The owner of another Kress building in Bartlesville has said he plans on obtaining what he can from Enid’s structure.

LodgeWell is prepared to close on the property, which is owned by the city, by the end of October, Benson said. The city will demolish the building and LodgeWell will pay $10 for the land before starting construction.

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