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.