|By Michael Overall, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September 15, 2009 - For the first time in nearly 30 years, downtown Tulsa's historic Mayo Hotel was open for business Monday -- but only for select guests.
With the main entrance still partially covered with construction scaffolding, the first 65 guests slept at the hotel Sunday night, a manager confirmed.
Officials, however, described it as a "soft opening," with the rooms reserved exclusively through booking agents.
The hotel will open to the general public "soon," officials said Monday, but they would not comment further. The front desk told callers that it would start taking reservations Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a doorman turned away visitors who weren't guests on Monday afternoon.
With several tour buses parked next to the hotel, at Fifth Street and Cheyenne Avenue, rumors spread that pop star Britney Spears and her entourage were staying there ahead of Tuesday's concert at the BOK Center.
Macy Snyder, the Mayo's sales director, wouldn't comment.
Closed since 1981, the Mayo always remained one of downtown's most recognizable landmarks even as it sat boarded-up and decaying.
Over the years, renovation plans were announced at least half a dozen times.
All efforts failed -- until the Snyder family bought the building for a mere $250,000 in 2001.
Instead of embarking on an immediate, large-scale renovation, the Snyders took it piece-by-piece.
The Mayo's basement opened as a public parking garage in 2002, creating a revenue stream that allowed the ground floor to be restored as an events center in 2003.
Then, in 2006, the Mayo qualified for $4.9 million in Vision 2025 funds to help convert the upper floors into a combination of hotel rooms and loft apartments.
In all, it took $40 million to reopen the 84-year-old building, including 102 hotel rooms and 76 lofts.
Michael Overall 581-8383 firstname.lastname@example.org
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