|By Robert Evatt, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Mar. 25, 2009 --The transformation of the downtown Atlas Life Building into the 118-room Courtyard by Marriott-Atlas Life hotel will blend the building's past with cutting-edge design work.
During the official ground-breaking Tuesday, Jeff Hartman, co-owner of Broken Arrow-based developer SJS Hospitality LLC, said the $17.2 million project will feature a new design for Marriott that was developed by GH2 Architects of Tulsa.
Renovations are expected to be finished by the summer of 2010, he said. Demolition work on three floors has begun, and all construction contractors are in place.
The modern, open touches will be blended into the historical architecture of the building at 415 S. Boston Ave., which was constructed in 1922. They have to -- that's one of the conditions for the building's inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which was announced at the ground-breaking.
Steve Ehrhardt, co-owner of SJS Hospitality, said the application process for the register went surprisingly fast and encountered no objections from the National Park Service.
"It's almost unheard of for the Park Service to approve a project on the first try with no comments," he said.
Since officials discovered that the hallway, flooring and other features of the seventh floor remain much as they were in 1922, SJS decided to designate it as the historic floor. Hartman said contractors will put in a three-bedroom suite, smaller yet still upscale guest rooms and a board room to be used when a client rents
the entire floor.
The main area of the first floor will remain unchanged, though the tenant space will get new features. Both the Atlas Grill and the Tulsa Press Club will receive renovations, along with most of the building.
"The Press Club will get a more contemporary, modern look, with new furniture and lighting," Hartman said. "The grill will keep its diner feel but get a more open look with a higher, exposed ceiling."
Additionally, the Tulsa Historical Society will open up a satellite office on the first floor, where it will display Atlas Life Building artifacts and offer items for sale.
The remaining 2,500 square feet of retail space could include some current tenants, such as the Courtyard Deli.
The hotel itself will begin on the second floor, featuring a wide public space with a check-in area, a restaurant called the Bistro Bar and Grill, a library, media room, business center, meeting space and fitness center.
"The Bistro Bar will serve breakfast, close down for lunch to allow the Atlas Grill to fill that need, and then open back up to serve dinner and drinks at night," Hartman said.
A 52-inch, touch-screen LCD television panel to be known as the Go Board will be a key feature of the second floor, allowing guests to browse news and weather, find local restaurants and print airline boarding passes.
SJS Hospitality purchased the 12-story building from Kanbar Properties last year for an undisclosed price.
Robert Evatt 581-8447 firstname.lastname@example.org
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