The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 5, 2012

City enters agreement for downtown hotel

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

HARTFORD, Conn. — 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 hotel management that could lead to the 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.

There is no average size for a hotel. Mashburn said it will depend on the market, plus the current and the 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 will probably use one of those national brands. They will manage the hotel themselves or use a management company, he said.

LodgeWell started business this year, but Mashburn said both he and Owen have 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, Mo. The partners have been talking to the city about a month, have made a couple of prior visits to the city and were in town Monday and Tuesday.

The strip where Cherokee Strip Conference Center and the historic Kress Building are located has been discussed.

Other potential sites include: 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 the 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, but a place for people to do things and eat also, he said. Being in the downtown, they are already in a good place, and would enhance that, 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 the existing economy and potential for the future. In addition, they were impressed with the city’s commitment to the downtown development area 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 very 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, she said.