McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 22, 2013

VIDEO: Demolition makes way for downtown hotel

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Demolition on an Enid landmark has begun.

Workers with American Demolition started pulling down bricks, wood and metal from the eastern-most walls of the Cherokee Strip Conference Center Friday. Much of the plaza there has already been torn away and a pile of cut-down limbs had been stacked inside the demolition company's fence.

Earlier this week, a city spokesman said that there was no set date for demolition but that it was expected to begin around Dec. 1. Officials at city hall could not be reached Friday.

The demolition Friday appeared to be confined largely to just one backhoe driver, who used the claw to bang against the brick walls and shred the underlying structure.

While the fate of the conference center and the adjoining Kress building has been known for some time, demolition on the structures has been delayed. First, developers pushed back the timeline because of a lack of funding for the planned downtown hotel at Maine and Independence.

Near the end of October, the city learned that certain survey and title work had not been completely finished.

Earlier efforts to save the facade on the Kress building failed when the city and the hotel developer learned it would cost significantly more to keep it. LodgeWell LLC is now is tasked with designing their Hilton Garden Inn in a way that is complementary to the Kress building and the downtown area. The design must also earn the approval from the Enid City Commission.

Along with the hotel, LodgeWell is building a parking garage. The garage will be operated by LodgeWell for 10 years, but it then goes back under city's ownership.

(Staff Video by DALE DENWALT)