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Developer Proposes a 246-room Westin Hotel with 72 Condos
 Adjacent to the Arena in Downtown Tulsa

By Brian Barber, Tulsa World, Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Aug. 20, 2006 - -A mammoth development that would include a hotel, condominiums, urban lofts, and retail and restaurant space is being proposed for the city's property for sale across the street from the BOK Center.

The Westin at Tulsa Garden Square proposal was the only one submitted to the Tulsa Development Authority by the 5 p.m. Friday deadline.

"Frankly, I'm surprised we didn't receive more than that," the authority's chairman, Carl Bracy, said. "We had a lot of inquiries."

Even though the authority has only one proposal to consider, that doesn't mean it has to accept the plan, Bracy said.

"It's going to go through a review process to determine whether it's the best project for that site," he said, adding that he has not yet reviewed it.

"Maybe it is and we don't need to see any more. But we could throw it out and start all over."

The authority began soliciting proposals in June for the 58,000-square-foot site, on Denver Avenue between Second and Third streets. It is asking for the fair market value of nearly $1.6 million.

The L-shaped property, which is being used for parking, is adjacent to the vacant and dilapidated Towerview Apartments and an office building leased by Tulsa Vision Builders, the arena's construction team.

The Westin at Tulsa Garden Square would use the entire block, featuring a 246-room, upscale Westin Hotel with 72 condominiums in the upper seven stories, along with meeting space and a ballroom.

Surrounding an 8,500-square-foot courtyard garden would be 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with 28 urban lofts, rooftop gardens and a pool.

The development would also have 750 parking spaces, most of them underground.

The developer, Heavenly Hospitality LLC of Anthem, Ariz., indicates in the proposal that it has an exclusive agreement to purchase the office building and its land for roughly $2 million.

The developer also notes that the Towerview's owner wants at least $2 million for that property, but no agreement to buy it is apparent.

The developer includes several conditions, which could prove to be stumbling blocks for the city.

Among them are:

* Moving the bus station at Fourth Street and Denver Avenue and replacing it with a visitor information center and trolley station to local points of interest and parking facilities.

* Legally requiring freight trains to stop blowing their whistles when going through downtown.

* Demolishing or significantly renovating the Coney Island Building and the nearby Wright Building annex that includes the Pomodori's restaurant.

* Requiring the planned Centennial Walk, which would include historical markers and sidewalk landscaping, to touch the development. The core route of the walk that has funding does not reach the site.

* Designating the hotel as the premier headquarters hotel for downtown Tulsa.

The proposal also alludes to possible economic incentives that the city could offer but does not spell them out.

It states, however, that the two extra parcels of land that would have to be acquired privately have steep prices for the market.

A study received by the city last month indicated a demand for roughly 1,800 hotel rooms in the next five years.

But it also indicated there might be a multimillion-dollar economic feasibility gap that the city would have to help bridge to get a new full-service hotel downtown.

If this proposal is accepted, it would mark Westin's return to Tulsa. From 1984 until 1992, the hotel chain operated what is now the Crowne Plaza Hotel downtown.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Tulsa World, Okla.

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