The look of hotels, not the number is the dilemma in downtown OKC

The Oklahoma Editorial Published: November 20, 2012

While the growth figures cover the whole city, the downtown and Bricktown areas get the most attention. A Holiday Inn Express first proposed in 2008 for Bricktown was delayed by the appropriateness of its proposed design and later scrubbed due to the recession. It's now back at the reservation desk with a new design involving five stories and 124 rooms.

Steve Lackmeyer, who covers downtown and Bricktown for The Oklahoman, reports that a wave of hotel projects in the central city include an 11-story Hilton Garden Inn, a Marriott Springhill Suites and two others. Also announced is conversion of a former office building in Midtown into a 54-room hotel.

The building spurt is coming despite what Lackmeyer reports is “fierce national competition” for conventions and an oversupply of meeting space in a time of shrinking demand. Hotel developers are doubtless aware of these trends but are pressing ahead because this is an exciting time for Oklahoma City.

MAPS 3 skeptics will use national trends to bolster their arguments about the convention center, but the existing facility (Cox Center) will be at least 50 years old when the replacement structure is finished.

Twenty years ago, convention-goers had an easy walk from the only downtown hotel to the convention center. Problem was, a lack of central city rooms suppressed the CVB's ability to woo conventions. That's no longer true.

Now the challenge is to lure enough visitors to keep downtown/Bricktown hotels operating at a healthy occupancy rate.

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