After listening to plenty of doubters over the past decade, Marva Ellard’s face is a mix of satisfaction and wear. It was in October 1997 that Ellard submitted the low bid for the Sieber Hotel at an auction in an adjoining parking lot. The building was a shambles — windows boarded up, the interior scarred by numerous fires set by transients the previous 15 years.
A prior group had tried to turn the hotel around in the early 1980s and was in the midst to installing carpeting and doors when the failure of Penn Square Bank ground everything to a halt. Ellard took her time; she carefully plotted how to rebuild the landmark while staying within guidelines to capture historic tax credits and loans from the Murrah district revitalization fund. Now Ellard and partners Robert Magrini, Todd Scott, Mike McDonald and Tom Stapleton are celebrating the project’s completion. "It wasn’t for the money,” Ellard said. "My background is preservation, but with much smaller projects. I just never thought this part of MidTown would be what it could be unless the Sieber was rehabilitated. It was a pivotal property in this part of town. And we’ve torn down way more than we ever should have.” Magrini, who has law offices nearby, is stunned by the progress of not just the Sieber, but MidTown as a whole. He said a business acquaintance recently observed that with the opening of hip restaurants and shops in MidTown, the city has come around to a vision that most thought was crazy. Ellard recalls an early visit with one banker who lived in Edmond. "He said ‘who would ever live there?’ I thought he was teasing,” Ellard said.