|By Michael Overall, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 24, 2007 - A building permit has been issued to begin work on a $35 million project to reopen downtown Tulsa's historic Mayo Hotel, officials said Thursday.
Major construction won't start until January, but the initial $500,000 permit will allow for curb cuts and sidewalk changes to allow the building's first floor to remain open for events during the renovation of the upper floors.
The project will include a hotel on the first nine floors of the building and residential apartments on the upper nine floors, said Macy Snyder, the property manager and events coordinator.
The Snyder family bought the abandoned, gutted hotel for $250,000 in June 2001 and soon renovated the first floor into an upscale events center and the basement into a parking garage.
But progress on the rest of the building has been slow, in spite of $4.9 million in Vision 2025 funds to support the creation of the loft apartments.
"The issue has always been financing," Snyder said. "We needed a partner, because we couldn't do this ourselves."
They found a partner in June, when the Mayo formed a joint venture with Presidian, a hotel development company based in San Antonio.
Presidian has been involved in the renovation of several large-scale, historic hotels across the country, most recently at the Hilton President in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
"This is what they do," Snyder said, "and they are very good at it."
Since it opened in 1925 at Fifth Street and Cheyenne Avenue, the Mayo has been one of downtown's most recognizable landmarks.
In Tulsa's heyday as the "Oil Capital of the World," the 18th-floor Crystal Ballroom was often the site of glamorous parties, hosting presidents and celebrities. Will Rogers was a frequent guest.
But after the hotel closed in the 1980s, it became a symbol for the decline of downtown. Now the Snyders hope it will become a symbol for downtown's revitalization.
"We wanted to save it and bring it back to what it was," Snyder said, "because the Mayo is very important to Tulsa."
Officials are planning a groundbreaking, perhaps for Jan. 1, she said. In the meantime, design work will continue, along with the installation of new elevators.
Construction should take 15 to 18 months, with tenants moving into the apartments by the summer of 2009 and the hotel opening soon afterward, Snyder said.
The hotel will be built entirely with private money; the Vision 2025 funding will cover less than half the cost of building the lofts, she said.
The apartments will rent for about $1 per square foot, or about $720 to more than $1,500 per month, she said.
The hotel will include a restaurant and bar, with room service offered to both tenants and hotel guests, she said.
Michael Overall 581-8383 firstname.lastname@example.org
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