TULSA — The Mayo Hotel, a once-proud landmark turned eyesore, is getting a long-awaited makeover that will result in 72 apartments and 100 hotel rooms being added to downtown. With construction crews already at work on 11 of the building's 20 stories, dignitaries gathered Tuesday to celebrate the $40 million renovation. "It's exciting,” said Macy Snyder, whose family bought the hotel in 2001 for $250,000. "The long journey is coming to an end — but it's also coming to a beginning.” Those in attendance included Mayor Kathy Taylor, who called the Mayo renovation critical to the revival of downtown Tulsa. Looking out a window, Taylor pointed to the BOK Arena scheduled to open later this year and the old City Hall that is being vacated with hopes of being replaced by a convention hotel. "This is an amazing place,” Taylor said. "The downtown revitalization shows Tulsa is back.” The hotel was slated for demolition when it was bought by the Snyders. They initially restored the first floor, which over the past few years has been used for special events, including two inaugurations for Gov. Brad Henry. The deal to renovate and reopen the entire building came together with $4.9 million in financing from Tulsa's Vision 2025 program, a $23.5 million loan from IBC Bank, and co-development by San Antonio-based Presidian Cos. Showing off a completed apartment on the hotel's fourth floor, Snyder said the Mayo will top any housing currently offered in downtown Tulsa. "All the services that a four-star hotel would have, the apartment residents will have access to as well — maid service, valet, room service — everything,” Snyder said. Clyde Johnson, project manager with Presidian, estimates the project will be complete by October 2009. "It's structurally in very good condition,” Johnson said. "We came into the project, the building had been gutted already in the 1980s so the clean-out had already been completed. We got to start with a blank canvas.”
In comparisonSeveral attending Tuesday's construction commencement ceremonies compared the Mayo Hotel to the recently renovated Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City. Both hotels were considered the grandest of their time, and both were closed and dilapidated for two decades. The Mayo Hotel, built in 1925, boasts a history that includes visits by Bob Hope, Charles Limbergh, John F. Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin, and longtime residents included oilman J. Paul Getty.