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April 2, 2014

Hotel open in 2015?: Hilton Garden Inn ‘rounding last corner’

ENID, Okla. — Construction on Hilton Garden Inn Enid is expected to wrap up sometime in 2015.

LodgeWell Managing Partner Dave Owen said he has six months to start and it will take about a year to finish the downtown hotel — plus an adjoining parking garage and retail space.

His remarks came during a press conference Wednesday to celebrate this point in the process. Closing documents were signed on Wednesday, and LodgeWell is buying the land at Independence and Maine for $10, in return for spending millions on the hotel and 250-space garage.

Ward 6 Commissioner David Vanhooser compared the process to preparing for a race. Once all the drivers’ gear is on and the car is built, and once the racers line up for a running start, it’s time for the green flag.

“Congratulations to the city of Enid today. We are rounding that last corner,” he said. “All the legal work has been done. All the cussing and discussing about the panels, the bricks and the color of the wall – all of that is behind us. We’re looking down the track and that green flag is waving.

“Let’s build this hotel.”

Owen said the journey, which involved the issues of money, property and public opinion, will be the most memorable part of the entire project.

At one point, LodgeWell had to search for more funding. Then, the process of acquiring the land had several snags, effectively delaying closing by several months.

Throughout it all, however, the public has been curious about how the hotel will fit downtown. There was opposition to tearing down the Kress Building, but LodgeWell promised the Hilton Garden Inn would memorialize the building’s facade. A final rendering of the 131-room hotel was shown to the public Tuesday.

Owen said he was relieved there were no more serious hurdles to construction.

“We finally have that behind us and we can get on with doing what we really want to do, and that’s building a hotel,” he said.

There was new and more detailed information about the hotel that was released this week:

• There will be three or four meeting rooms. Owen said the smaller “breakout” rooms will not compete with Convention Hall.

• The hotel will include a bar and restaurant, possibly managed by LodgeWell.

• Financial support includes local and national money. There are local individuals and businesses who have invested in the hotel, plus a large national real estate trust. Owen did not divulge any names, citing confidentiality agreements.

“We’re not at liberty to reveal that yet, but we’ve got a really good set of partners. If they want to come forward they certainly can,” he said.

• Both LodgeWell and the city of Enid are applying for federal New Market Tax Credits to offset the cost of construction, which is expected to top a combined $20 million for the hotel and garage.

• LodgeWell is considering an elevated, enclosed walkway between the parking garage and Enid Event Center, although there are no definite plans.

Owen said Clark Construction Co., of Little Rock, Ark., is the main contractor.

“We’ve done everything we can do to date. We have done an environmental study, we’ve done soil boring; we’ve applied for the Hilton flag and received it,” he said. “We’re ready to go. There are a few minor details to be taken care of in terms of moving utilities and issues like that.”

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