|By P.J. Lassek, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 07, 2010 --The Tulsa Development Authority on Thursday will pick a developer to convert the former City Hall building into a hotel with mixed retail space.
Vying for the site are Brickhugger LLC, developers of the Mayo Hotel, and Omega Alpha Development, which purchased and resold the former north Tulsa Albertson's store.
Both groups made presentations to the authority last week. One will be selected to enter into contract negotiations with the authority.
Brickhugger was the first to notify the city in March that it wanted to buy the site for $1 million. Brickhugger's offer was publicized by Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
In May, Omega Alpha submitted an offer to the city for $1.1 million.
The second offer triggered the City Council to direct the Tulsa Development Authority to seek proposals on the site, select a project, negotiate a contract and then submit the contract to the council for final approval.
Tori Snyder, co-owner of Brickhugger, told the authority last week that her company has a proven track record with hotel development, noting the Mayo. On the new project, the group would be working with the construction firm, Manhattan, that built ONEOK Field on time and on budget.
"It's easy to say you can do something, but this team that we've assembled has actually done it," Snyder said.<>While both projects would include possibly an Aloft brand hotel, restaurant and retail space, Brickhugger's project also would open up Fifth Street to the Convention Center. >
The street currently ends at Denver Avenue, where the Civic Center Plaza begins.
"We want to unlock the Convention Center to the rest of downtown, open it up and make it more accessible," said Macy Snyder, Brickhugger co-owner.
The project would include a 200-room convention hotel in the former City Hall building, a restaurant and conference center in the former City Council chamber building, and 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in separate buildings around the hotel.
The project cost is $29.5 million, which includes $23.5 million for the hotel, restaurant and conference center and $6 million for the retail development. Construction is estimated to take 12 months for the hotel and restaurant and another eight months for the retail space.
Opening Fifth Street west from Denver Avenue not only gives access to the Convention Center but also the proposed retail and hotel area, the authority was told.
Tony Lombardi, broker for the Omega Alpha project, told the authority its plans could open the site to further development.
"We believe that not only can we transform this into a hotel, but a retail and restaurant area and other development opportunities," he said.
After the meeting, Lombardi said some of those opportunities could be residential and office space.
The Omega Alpha project includes a 130- to 135-room hotel, restaurant and retail.
Lombardi told the authority that Omega Alpha has a commitment from McGill's Restaurant to negotiate a deal, if it is chosen. He said he has also talked to the Hal Smith group, which owns several restaurants, such as Charlestons.
He said the goal is to get a restaurant to draw people downtown in the evening.
The group also is talking to retail and restaurant prospects that would support daytime, Monday-through-Friday activity, Lombardi said.
"We are poised and ready to go," he said. "We can negotiate a contract, get it to closing and get this on the tax rolls very quickly."
Lombardi said the cost of the project is between $8.5 million and $10 million.
The two groups were asked about the parking situation.
Parking at the former City Hall site is part of a lease agreement with the Parking Authority, which expires in 2028.
Lombardi said the parking would have to be negotiated, "and at this point we don't feel uncomfortable about it."
Snyder said all the existing parking space would be essential for the project.
Original Print Headline: Developers vie for former City Hall site
P.J. Lassek 581-8382 firstname.lastname@example.org
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