Convention center progress pauses in anticipation of hotel decision

April 8, 2013 by  

As Oklahoma City moves to supersede its 40-year-old Cox Convention Center, progress has come to a halt over the question of where to place the accompanying hotel.

During a March 26 meeting, the convention center subcommittee evaluated three design proposals for the new center, which will be built on a site directly south of the Cox Center. The final design will be part of the $777m third phase of the Metropolitan Area Project Plan (MAPS 3).

During the committee deliberations, the unresolved state of the hotel plans cropped up in every discussion. All the designs planned for a new 20-story hotel, but this is not funded by the MAPS 3 budget, and finding a partner in the hotel industry has been difficult.

Local developer Cathy O’Connor, who is also president/CEO of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, said:

“We have no hotel developers knocking at our door.”

O’Connor mentioned that a hotel market analysis was being launched to determine the financial feasibility of a convention center hotel. Councilman Ed Shadid has suggested that it may cost the city up to $100m in business incentives or public funds to get the hotel built.

Whether slating a concert, hosting a lecture series, or giving business people a place to swap digital business cards at a trade show, major modern cities consider a competitive convention center to be a vital civic asset.

It is to be hoped that the hotel difficulties will be sorted out by the time design consultants Populous and GSB, Inc. present their next, feedback-enhanced design proposal to the committee in 60 days’ time.