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Developers of Oklahoma City's Skirvin Hotel
 Expect March 2007 Opening
By Steve Lackmeyer, The Daily Oklahoman, The Daily Oklahoman
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Dec. 31, 2006 - The Skirvin hotel has a new owner today -- and developers say they are on target for opening as a Hilton before the March 2007 Big 12 basketball tournament at nearby Ford Center.

The three-month sale closing on the hotel by Oklahoma City to Dallas-based Skirvin Partners concluded Thursday with the wiring of millions of dollars by both the city, investors and banks to make the $51.3 million project a reality.

"The deal has been completed, all the documents have been signed and all the money has been wired to the correct places," Urban Renewal director JoeVan Bullard said. "What a glorious way to end 2005."

John Weeman, the lead developer, said downtown Oklahoma City is a different market than it was when his team, which includes Milwaukee-based Marcus Hotels and Resorts, first bid for the project three years ago.

Renovation of another historic property, the Colcord building, into a boutique hotel, began in September. A Residence Inn is being built in Bricktown, and a Hampton Inn is set to be built in Bricktown this spring.

"We started out looking at being in the very top of the market, and we remain at the very top of the market," Weeman said. "The Colcord is going to sit in the market much as the Ambassador Hotel does in Tulsa. It's a nice, small boutique hotel, and we're a big full-service hotel. We're totally different breeds."

Weeman said the Skirvin sale was the most complicated in his career, with a city loan agreement involving historic tax credits, tax increment financing, new market tax credits and Community Development Block Grants. The city participation totals up to $18 million, all of which is expected to be repaid to taxpayers through ground lease and loan payments. Marcus Hotels and Resorts, which is both the operator and equity partner in the project, already is fielding calls in the company's Milwaukee office to book events, Weeman said.

He said a sales office should open in the first floor of the attached Santa Fe Parking Garage by spring.

"I don't think Oklahoma City can wait for the Skirvin Hilton to open," Weeman said.

* 1911: William B. Skirvin opens the Skirvin Hotel, featuring neo-Georgian architecture, oak paneling and Venetian crystal chandeliers. The hotel is considered one of the finest in the Southwest.

* 1988: Skirvin Plaza Hotel closes with owners promising it would be reopened after a $1.2 million renovation. Laid-off employees say the hotel is in financial trouble and won't reopen.

* 2002: Oklahoma City Council buys the hotel for $2.875 million after determining the property won't be renovated and reopened without public subsidy.

* 2003: City solicits development proposals and selects Skirvin Partners, which proposes renovating the Skirvin into a Hilton.

Skirvin costs

$51.3 million -- Total project cost

$33.3 million -- Private funding (includes sale of historic tax credits, new market tax credits)

$18 million -- Public funding

Public funding breakdown

$10.4 million -- Tax increment finance district bonds

$700,000 -- Brownfield loan

$1 million -- Economic development initiative grant

$4.816 million -- Section 108 loan

$653,000 -- Urban renewal close-out funds

$431,000 -- Sale proceeds


Copyright (c) 2005, The Daily Oklahoman

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