The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 6, 2012

City of Enid enters into agreement with LodgeWell Group for downtown hotel

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A new downtown hotel may be on the horizon.

Enid city commissioners agreed Tuesday night during executive session to pursue a 120-day agreement with LodgeWell Group that could lead to construction of a hotel.

Dave Mashburn, a partner in LodgeWell, said he and his partner, Dave Owen, have been talking with the city for about a month. They will continue to have a dialogue and understand what the needs of the community are.

“Hopefully, we can blend some of that with our company interests, either in health care-oriented hotels ... but we have lots of experience with convention hotels, as well. We’re in the early stages,” Mashburn said.

Having a hotel downtown was something city officials have wanted, to go along with Enid Event Center and the renovated Convention Hall.

There is no average size for a hotel. Mashburn said it will depend on the market, plus current and future demand. From that information, they will determine a logical room count — and sometimes allow for expansion of the hotel or construction of a second hotel — in their master plan.

The hotel business is franchised. They will work with a number of national franchises and said they probably will use one of those national brands for Enid. They will manage the hotel themselves or use a management company, he said.

LodgeWell, with offices in Springfield, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan., started business this year, but Mashburn said he and Owen have a long history in hotel development. Mashburn worked for 30 years in a convention hotel business, most recently with John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts in Springfield.

No site has been determined for placement of the hotel downtown. The strip where Cherokee Strip Conference Center and the historic Kress Building are located has been discussed.

Other potential sites are: the opposite corner from Cherokee Strip Conference Center at the corner of Maine and Grand; west of Convention Hall in what now is a parking lot at Cherokee and Independence; and two sites at the corner of Oklahoma and Grand, with one facing Grand and one facing Oklahoma. The last two are on the corner where Café Garcia is located.  

Mashburn said they agree with the city study and with potential locations for the hotel. However, they want to continue their dialogue with all of the stakeholders and develop a consensus on the best site.

“It’s pretty important for a convention hotel to be near — if not connected to — those conference facilities. We haven’t determined an exact location. We’re hoping to integrate retail and restaurant components into or adjacent to the hotel, or maybe raise the hotel up and put them beneath it,” Mashburn said.

It is important for a convention center to become a destination with a hotel and meeting place, and also a place for people to do things and eat, he said.

Mashburn said they will continue to meet with everyone involved, go into the marketplace and explore a variety of financing options to find the best solution. The options include an array of selections from totally private funding to tax increment financing and new market tax credits, among other options. Mashburn said sometimes a combination of all those options is selected.

“We have a couple of hotels in early stages of development, but nothing out of the ground yet. We’re working with the city of Grove for a convention center hotel there, and we’re also working on a project as a medical hotel concept in the Kansas City area,” he said.

Mashburn said he and Owen were surprised by the growth of Enid and its economy, and its potential for the future. They were impressed with the city’s commitment to downtown development and to see such a project already started.

“It’s a huge step forward. Many communities want to do something like that, but to actually see it coming out of the ground is a huge compliment to Enid. The economy of the community and the potential for future growth ... we became pretty convinced it is a great situation,” Mashburn said.

Assistant City Manager Joan Riley said the city has had ongoing discussions with two or three companies for a while, and this group is excited about the Enid area and what is going on.

“They have some tremendous ideas, and they like the setup,” Riley said.

A location will be developed within the next 90 days of discussion, depending on what works best and is the best fit. It will be a high-quality hotel, Riley said.