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Oklahoma City selects developer for convention center hotel

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OKLAHOMA CITY  – The Oklahoma City Council approved Tuesday a resolution to enter into final negotiations with Omni Hotels & Resorts to develop the Oklahoma City convention center hotel.

The selection of the developer was based on recommendations by the committee tasked with evaluating hotel proposals.

Omni Hotels proposed a conceptual 19-floor hotel with 600 rooms, approximately 50,000 square feet of meeting space, and several food and beverage outlets including two restaurants.

The hotel will be located next to the new convention center and is targeted to open with the convention center in early 2020.

Councilman David Greenwell, a member of the selection committee, said the recommendation was based on experience, the proposed ownership model and cost.

“We evaluated seven proposals from respected hotel developers,” Greenwell said. “Omni Hotels’ successful experience building luxury convention hotels was a major factor in the decision.”

Other recent Omni Hotels convention center hotel developments include Nashville, Tennessee and Dallas, Texas and one under current construction in Louisville, Kentucky.

Another deciding factor was Omni’s ownership model.

The hotels are owned and managed by the company and typically held, rather than being sold to a group of investors.

“Omni has a proven reputation for building and maintaining signature hotels,” Greenwell said. “Meeting planners and visitors know this, and that will attract bookings.”

According to a hotel market study commissioned last year by the City of Oklahoma City, hotel needs for current conventions and events at the Cox Convention Center already exceed available rooms.

The study projects nearly a 14 percent increase in room demand immediately when the new convention center is finished.

Cathy O’Connor, president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, said the hotel will cost approximately $235 million to build and could require as much as $85.4 million in public participation.

“Public participation is necessary to close the gap in the project cost after the investment by the private investor,” O’Connor said. “Due to the required size and expectations of luxury and amenities such as full-service restaurants and meeting room space, convention centers hotels typically require public participation.”

O’Connor said the required public participation is in the same ratio of comparable projects in other cities, as a percentage of total development cost.

Finalizing a development agreement and determining funding options for the public participation are the next steps in the selection process.

“With City Council’s approval, we can move forward on the next step, to begin further negotiations with the developer and explore the best possible funding options. Goals in our negotiation with Omni are to deliver the high quality convention center hotel that Oklahoma City needs while minimizing the amount of public participation necessary.”

The committee intends to have funding recommendations to City Council within a few months.