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Gardner-Tanenbaum keeps the light on for Oklahoma Health Care Authority

Developer Richard Tanenbaum said he considered a new hotel, student housing, a college campus, apartments and senior housing, with office use the furthest from his mind, until the state agency let it be known a year ago that it was looking for new digs.
by Richard Mize Published: March 16, 2013

Gardner-Tanenbaum paid $2.6 million for the two former hotel buildings on 18 acres in August 2011. Financing was by Doug Morris of Stillwater National Bank with funding through Metropolitan Capital Advisors in Dallas.

Tanenbaum said he had several ideas for alternative uses for the property, but that he never intended to convert the hotel to office space.

“We had a three-prong attack,” he said. “One was the obvious: hotel. We brought in hotel people — but I'm not in the hotel business. They didn't want to be at risk; they just wanted a bunch of fees. It was going to be like $35 million and I'd have had to wait years before I got my money and I didn't understand — so we stepped away from that.”

Another possibility, Tanenbaum said, was some kind of student use, either for housing or as a campus, but pitches that he made to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the School of Hotel & Restaurant Administration at Oklahoma State University came to nothing.

He said the third possibility was housing, perhaps apartments or senior housing — but when the health care authority went looking for a new place last year, Gardner-Tanenbaum submitted a proposal to the agency's liking, and the property's future was set.

“You've got to buy it right, which I think we did: 18 acres on Lincoln. The land was worth the purchase price,” he said.