Bricktown is emerging as prime hotel district

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

by Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

With construction starting on two new hotels and four more planned, Bricktown’s room count is about to climb to more than 1,200.   

Jonathan Pitman, a partner in Sheridan Lodging Associates, sees the entertainment district rapidly approaching a point when it becomes one of the city’s leading hotel corridors competing with Meridian Avenue, Memorial Road and Northwest Expressway.   

“With the demand you see at the Hampton Inn and the Residence Inn (two hotels currently operating in Bricktown), you see two of the busiest hotels in the state running 85 to 90 percent occupancy,” Pitman said. “That tells you there is a big demand to stay in Bricktown.”   

Pitman and his father, Marsh Pitman, admit their own success in developing the Hampton Inn likely is inspiring the sudden rush to expand the market. They built the hotel with Madison, Wi.-based Raymond Management in 2008 at a cost of $25 million, and it sold two years later, in the depth of the Great Recession, for $32 million.   

Their newest venture, a joint hotel tower to be occupied by a Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites, will feature a full-service restaurant and bar, and at 11 stories will be the tallest addition to Bricktown. Taking cues from lessons learned at the Hampton Inn, the new hotel also will boast 10,000 square feet of meeting and conference space with catering to accommodate weddings.   

Construction, meanwhile, is well under way on an $18 million Aloft Hotel at Walnut Avenue and NE 2 on a hill overlooking Bricktown.  

Also, Dr. Atul Patel recently bought vacant land at NE 1 and Russell Perry Avenue and at Byers and Sheridan avenues, where he will build three hotels with a room count topping 350 for all combined.   

Patel said design work is already under way for a Marriott Springhill Suites for NE 1 and Russell Perry, a hotel that will be six to eight stories high with a room count of between 120 to 145.   

“It will be pretty nice — it will have a lounge and bar area, conference rooms, fitness center, a pool; it won’t be a typical Springhill Suites,” Patel said.   

Patel, who has developed several hotels in the metro area and recently opened a Springhill Suites in Enid, said the timing is right for an expansion of the downtown hotel market.   

“Downtown is growing with MAPS, Thunder basketball and all the year-around events we’re seeing,” Patel said.   

Patel said he loves the Deep Deuce site because it is immediately next to Bricktown and is across the street from The Hill condominiums. He said he is not ready to announce hotel flags yet for the two hotels planned for Sheridan Avenue on the southeast corner of what was the home of Stewart Steel Fabricators. One of the hotels, he added, will be a full-service operation. Both will be between six and eight stories high.   

A similar-size hotel, meanwhile, is being planned as part of redevelopment by Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett of the north half of the Stewart Steel Fabricators complex along Sheridan Avenue. A timetable and further details on the project have yet to be announced.   

Pitman estimates the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites will open by mid-2014, while the Aloft is set to open by next spring.   

With deals percolating for even more hotels in Bricktown, Pitman sees Bricktown continuing to evolve as a destination.  

“I think the market will absorb these rooms,” Pitman said. “People don’t want to stay on Memorial Road or Northwest Expressway. Bricktown is in a good location, where you have all the entertainment you could want.”