The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 26, 2012

Downtown’s hotel details: Location, public incentives need more public comment

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — As Petula Clark sang, everything’s waiting for you downtown.

In downtown Enid, we’re waiting to discover the details of a multimillion-dollar hotel.

City Manager Eric Benson confirms substantial interest in the investment, and the city has focused on receiving industry feedback and determining possible whereabouts for the $6 million to $10 million project. The key will be integrating the structure with our downtown identity.

We hope City Hall will be as open as possible about development proposals for this potential public-private partnership.

We’re confident Enid can sustain a high-end hotel downtown to complement the Enid Event Center, the renovated Convention Hall and the David Allen Ballpark.

After being left for dead in the 1980s, our healthy downtown is bustling with business. It’s fortified by Triangle Insurance Co. buying the Continental Center South and Hiland Partners moving into the Continental Center North tower. One Grand Center also boasts a new owner and chief tenant, Wymer Brownlee & Associates.

Hotel development proposal requests

Where will the hotel be? According to a request for proposals, 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.

“We are not going to put a hotel in the Garcia’s location,” Benson told the Enid News & Eagle.

The site of the Cherokee Strip Conference Center and the historic Kress Building also has been discussed. If someone wants to put a hotel there, it is an option, Benson said. However, he said the city prefers to maintain the character and personality of the conference center.

The Kress building was constructed in 1907 and served as a retail store for six decades. After Kress closed, the structure became a Dollar General during the 1970s and ’80s, creating memories for a new generation.

The forthcoming hotel’s location is a hot topic. We need community involvement to determine the most reasonable locale. The more input options we have, the better.

We realize this primarily is a private development. However, with developers looking for financial motivation from the city, we expect some public incentives in the project.