View Full Version : Bricktown's Embassy Suites May Be Delayed

11-15-2004, 08:14 AM
By Steve Lackmeyer
The Oklahoman

One high-profile Bricktown development could be delayed for up to a year while another has been shelved possibly for good.

The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is expected to consider next month a request by Missouri developer John Q. Hammons to give him an extra year to start construction on a planned $35 million Embassy Suites.

Bricktown property owner Rich McLain, meanwhile, confirmed that a planned $40 million mixed retail and residential project dubbed "The Factory" is on hold.

McLain, whose family has long owned a full city block at Sheridan and Oklahoma Avenues, said the partner in "The Factory," ERC Development, dropped from the project after determining they couldn't put together financing.

The project was announced last year with great fanfare, and construction was scheduled to start this fall. The developers had obtained design approval from the city and also applied for county bond financing.

"It's still a concept we want to pursue, maybe not at that scale," McLain said. "We're looking for other partners and hope we can still do something in the future."

Hammons, meanwhile, disputes whether he has changed his schedule for building a $35 million Embassy Suites between Bricktown's Bass Pro Shops and Sonic office building along the Bricktown Canal.

Hammons bought the property last year from Randy Hogan, developer of the Urban Renewal project now known as "Lower Bricktown."

JoeVan Bullard, executive director of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, said development agreements with Hammons and Hogan called for construction of the hotel to start by Dec. 31.

Press releases in September 2003 indicated construction would start by the summer of 2004. But on Friday, Hammons said the 10-story hotel's schedule hasn't changed since it was first announced.

"I never planned to build before 2005," Hammons said. "I'm going to build there, I have the title for it (the land) and I could build there tomorrow if I wanted to."

Hammons said he hasn't completed an agreement with the Oklahoma RedHawks to allow him to build a parking garage on the team's lot across from the hotel site.

Scott Pruitt, owner of the RedHawks, agreed with Hammons that talks are progressing and a deal is near. Pruitt said he wants to ensure that any plans for a Hammons garage won't prevent his own desire for retail and residential development in the same area.

"The timing of his project is very different than ours," Pruitt said. "His is much more immediate."

Hammons said Friday he hopes to start construction by next summer. But he asked for an extension of his deadline to Dec. 31, 2005. Bullard said Urban Renewal commissioners may respond with a six-month extension.

Frank Sims, director of the Bricktown Association, said he's not discouraged by the latest news on The Factory and Embassy Suites. He said with the success of Bass Pro Shops and the recent opening the Bricktown Harkins 16 Theater, residential and hotel development in Bricktown is inevitable.

"It's just a matter of when," Sims said. "There is already a lot of downtown housing opening up, and to hit the next level, we need to have more hotel rooms for conventions. We're heading in the right direction."

11-15-2004, 11:46 AM
I think downtownguy already gave us a heads up that the Factory Development was more of a dream than a reality. This article confirms that. Unfortunately, the majority of developments that are put on the table never come to fruitition. That's ont just the case in our city, but is the case in many cities. This isn't the first residential development that has been proposed but not completed in downtown Oklahoma City. Anyone remember the old Mercy site downtown? A few years back a developer leveled the old Mercy Hospital, promising to build an apartment/condo community in its place. Well, the developer leveled the old Mercy Hospital, but the apartments/condos were never built.

At least Legacy Summit at Arts Central and the Montogomery are past the planning stages and being constructed.

With the success of current downtown apartment communities, it's only a matter of time before other "real" developers come to the table to invest in other similar developments.

The Factory may not become reality now, but maybe something similar will be proposed in the future as the ball continues to roll downtown.
Downtown housing is just getting started. I'd say the status of downtown housing is about what the status of Bricktown Restaurants was about 10 years ago. Had you told someone about the propects of a 16 screen theater in Bricktown 10 years ago, they probably just would've laughed. Back then we were lucky just to get a few restaurants in the Bricktown area. Brewer had to pull a lot of strings to get Bricktown Brewery and Spaghetti Warehouse to buy into the "Bricktown dream." Fortunately, it worked.

I think future gasoline prices will play a major role in people moving back to the downtown area. Sure, gas prices are going down this week, but over the long haul, prices will go up. Truth is, demand continues to go up, and supply continues to remain stable or go down.
As has already been said, this will probably provide a spark for commuter rail in our city as well, but I think that's a ways off still.

11-15-2004, 11:51 AM
hehe.. want to talk about commuter rails again? ;)

11-15-2004, 12:03 PM
Thought I'd add something.....I don't see why the media is getting so antsy about the Hammon's development. Maybe because of the recent announcement of the Factory Development. The city's probably being overly cautious because, unfortunately, we've been burned in the past by people claiming to do one thing, and then not fulfilling their promises. The former Mercy site, the Galleria site, many urban renewal sites, the Skirvin, etc. The list goes on and on. Actually, I'm glad to see that our city is being overly cautious. Seems like this cautious behavior started with the development of Lower Bricktown. Obviously, by choosing Hogan over Moshe Tal, the city showed that it was going the consevative route, choosing a developer who had proved himself in the past and had secured backing. Sure, Tal's plan looked better on paper, but he was never able to prove that he had financing. He always claimed that he had a group of overseas investors backing his development plan......nothing ever on paper though.

Anyways, I think the city knows they can count on Hammons. He's proved in the past that they can count on his word. I think from his two past developments, it's pretty clear that he follows his own time table though. The city actually questioned him several times about his Marriott Courtyard, asking if he stil planned on building it. Again, he told the city he still planned on building the Courtyard, he was just following his own timing. Hammons will follow through with his promise....he jsut has his own timetable though, and we need to be a little more patient of that. From the way the manager of the Redhawks sounded, Hammons sounds ready to get this project going, as he sounded pretty immediate on the parking garage agreement with the Redhawks.

By the way, I'm glad to hear that the Redhawks manager still wants to keep the table open, allowing not only a parking garage on the Redhawks lot, but also future residential/retail development.

Back to the Factory Development.....I wouldn't be surprised if the Steel Yard takes many years to develop as a residential community. Unfortunately, as with the Factory, it's an ambitious plan, but I'm not so sure the current owners have it al together. It takes time to put all of the financing together for a project like this. Unfortunately, local developers can't always get it together.

11-15-2004, 12:04 PM
Na Midtowner.....I think we've already discussed rail. I was just throwing it in there to make a point that everything will happen in due time. timeis the key word.

11-15-2004, 08:50 PM
I hope Scott Pruitt holds firm on his desire to have residential and retail on that lot. If Hammons insists on building a garage there, he ought to develop it with attractive retail space on the ground floor, the garage on top, and strong enough to build residential on top of that.