Courtesy Oklahoma City CVB
Downtown is where it’s at in Oklahoma’s two largest cities.
Four hotels under construction in downtown Oklahoma City are slated to open during the next 18 months, and a fifth has announced plans to build there. All five hotels are in Bricktown, the former warehouse district that has become the hip hub of downtown nightlife, directly east of the Cox Convention Center.
About 1,600 guest rooms are within walking distance of the convention center, and the new hotels will add 400 to 500 rooms, said Elisa Milbourn, communications manager for the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The 134-room Aloft hotel in the northern part of Bricktown will have about 8,000 square feet of meeting space, Milbourn said.
The 155-room Hilton Garden Inn and the 100-room Homewood Suites will be a “dual-hotel,” two hotels in one building that will share about 6,000 square feet of meeting space. The dual hotel will be across from the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, and a 124-room Holiday Inn Express will be a block north.
Staybridge Suites also recently announced it will build a 137-room hotel on the northeast corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Reno Avenue. Construction has not begun.
“All of the sudden, downtown kind of blew up, and a lot of building started within the last few years,” Milbourn said.
The city plans to build a new convention center catty-corner from the current one as part of the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) program, a 1-cent, self-imposed sales tax to fund quality-of-life projects.
The city’s third round of MAPS projects includes the new convention center, which would have 200,000 square feet of exhibit space; a 35,000-square-foot ballroom; and “multiple, multiple other meeting spaces,” Milbourn said. A downtown park, a white-water course on the Oklahoma River and a modern streetcar system are among other MAPS projects.
The city is buying a parcel of land bounded by the Myriad Botanical Gardens, Chesapeake Energy Arena and the MAPS downtown park for the new convention center.
The goal is to open the new convention center in late 2018, which gives city officials and community leaders time to figure out what to do with the Cox Convention Center.
“We actually haven’t developed a plan for the current convention center just yet,” Milbourn said. “We have groups using that facility, and we don’t want to lose that aspect, but our city government is in talks with how we want to handle the Cox center.”