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Plans for the MAPS 3 convention center stall pending a decision on where to locate an accompanying hotel.

Tim Farley April 3rd, 2013

Progress on downtown Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3-funded convention center has stalled pending a decision on the location of a convention center hotel.

Mike Carrier
Credit: Mark Hancock

The proposed 20-story hotel isn’t part of the $777 million MAPS 3 program but has proven to be a major sticking point for the convention center subcommittee. The panel met March 26 to discuss three convention center concepts provided by consultants Populous and GSB, Inc.

“Making that decision (hotel location) is the next step for us because it would certainly impact the design and configuration of the convention center,” said Tom McDaniel, subcommittee chairman.

The new convention center will be built between Reno Avenue and the future downtown boulevard, and between Robinson and Walker avenues.

As each design concept was presented, location and timing issues involving the hotel cropped up.

“We have no hotel developers knocking on our door,” said Cathy O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, a nonprofit corporation designed to coordinate public participation in economic development projects.

The hotel could require incentives and public funds ranging from $50 million to $100 million, according to Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid.


Hotel locations
At this point, the three concepts place the hotel south of the convention center, north of the convention center along Reno Avenue or on the Cox Convention Center site. Panel members talked about demolishing part of the Cox center to make room for the hotel, while maintaining the arena for the Oklahoma City Barons hockey team and other events.

“That’s something the city has to decide,” said Mike Carrier, committee member and president of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Other panel members agreed that a hotel next to the convention center would be more efficient.

“It would need to look like they were meant to go together,” said committee member Larry Nichols. “We could still build them next to each other, but have the hotel detached to give the convention center its own identity.”

Other committee members said placing the hotel across from the new convention center would make the two projects more independent of each other.

“If it was built off-site at the Cox Convention Center and built simultaneously as the new convention center, it would put us out of the convention business for a while,” Carrier said.

Other discussion centered on building the convention center first and then constructing the hotel later.

“Not having that true convention center hotel headquarters is a real problem,” Carrier said.

As part of the process, O’Connor said, a hotel market analysis will begin soon. The research will determine the demand for hotel rooms in the area, average daily rate and the financial feasibility for a convention center hotel.


Convention center concepts
All three concepts are anchored to Robinson and feature an elevated ballroom with city and park views, flexible meeting spaces, entrances on all sides of the building, room for expansion to the west and below-ground exhibit halls and loading docks. The concepts also allow for pedestrian connections to the Myriad Botanical Gardens and the future MAPS 3 public park.

The consultants left Tuesday’s meeting with the intention to incorporate the favored features from each concept and develop a hybrid design that can be presented to the subcommittee within the next 60 days. The city council will make the final decision on the concepts.

Construction of the $252 million convention center is expected to begin in 2016.


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