Changes are expected in downtown Enid with agreements for a hotel and for the purchase of the Family Dollar property approved Thursday by Enid City Commission.

The commission approved, 6-0, appointing ENIDBWP LLC — Aston Management and Dr. Atul Patel — as developer of the hotel and ratifying the master development agreement between Enid Economic Development Authority and ENIDBWP LLC. Also during the meeting, EEDA — made up of the commissioners — approved, 6-0, a master development agreement.

Through the agreement, a Best Western GLō hotel will be constructed on property located on Maine, between Independence and Grand, near Central National Bank Center.

“We’ve been working on the downtown hotel project for many years now, and (are) excited to get to this point,” Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling said. “I will warn you, we are not done yet. This is not a ribbon cutting tonight, but we are getting a lot further down the road than we’ve ever been before.”

The process toward a downtown hotel began in March 2011, and LodgeWell LLC was selected as the developer, he said. Financing for the project was never attained.

After that contract expired, Peachtree Hotel Group II LLC was selected. Around December 2015, when the price of oil dropped, the developer started getting nervous about the Enid market, Kisling said.

In June 2016, Enid began working with Aston Management, owned by Patel, he said. Patel went to grade school in Enid, grew up in the area and owns SpringHill Suites in Enid.

“He has an understanding of our market here,” Kisling said. “Most of his financing’s done with Enid banks. Most of his subcontractors have been from Enid and Alva and this area. It was a wonderful connection we had with him.”

City officials always “had the thought in mind of a Hilton Garden Inn,” he said.

The commission approved a term sheet with Patel and Hilton Garden Inn, Kisling said. Shortly thereafter, Hilton Garden Inn officials visited the community.

“The real reason Hilton ended up turning down our request for a flag as a community — and it had nothing to do with the fact (of) whether Enid was a great town or not — the reason was because there was already another Hilton product here in town: the Hampton Inn,” he said.

If a Hilton Garden Inn comes into a town with a Hampton Inn, it has to maintain at least a $20 a night higher room rate than the other hotel. The Hampton does well in Enid, and it would have put the room rate at the downtown hotel at around $145 to $150 a night, Kisling explained.

“They were concerned that our market wouldn’t support that price of a room and, really, after talking to them, I couldn’t hardly debate it with them because most of our rooms, even our upper level rooms, are going for $120 to $125,” he said.

Officials began seeking another flag, Kisling said.

Four years ago, Best Western began rebranding its program and established three new brands. The Best Western GLō is for mid-size markets. Best Western has approved the site next to CNB Center, he said.

“We will be the first Best Western GLō in the state of Oklahoma; the first one built in the contiguous states around Oklahoma,” Kisling said.

The Enid hotel will have a brick facade, he noted.

Project incentives will involve the land, a 40 percent room guarantee for five years and a $200,000 cost share on a parking lot.

The master development agreement is substantially like the term sheet approved last summer, Cheryl Denney, of law firm McAfee and Taft, said.

It’s different from the term sheet in that it’s a different brand, a requirement for 100 rooms has been decreased to 90, the square footage requirement decreased proportionally and the hotel is no longer required to have a restaurant. The incentive package is the same, she said.

“This agreement is intentionally drafted to protect the city, so you don’t actually transfer the property to the developer until he is, as we say, shovel ready,” Denney said.

Ward 5 Commissioner Tammy Wilson said having a hotel next Central National Bank Center will “significantly” increase the convention business.

“We’ve lost a lot of business at the event center because of the lack of having a hotel there. So, just as a statement to the public, we do need this hotel. It’s definitely a very important piece to our downtown, it’s definitely a very important piece to the event center project and I definitely think it will flourish,” Wilson said.

The commission approved, 6-0, appropriating $535,000 in funds — with estimated closing costs — and an agreement for the purchase of property at 116 W. Garriott and an adjacent lot.

Family Dollar has a lease on the property, for the building, City Attorney Andrea Chism said. The company has the option to extend the lease out to 2032, in five-year increments.

The city of Enid will assume the lease, but will receive the rent payments on the property, she said.

City Manager Jerald Gilbert said the rent is approximately $40,000 a year.

“This price that we’re getting this for is about half of what we thought we would end up paying for it eventually,” Wilson said. “I feel like this is not a bad move.”

In other business, Ward 4 Commissioner-elect Jonathan Waddell and Ward 6 Commissioner-elect George Pankonin were appointed to fill unexpired terms on the seats. The two agreed to fill the terms until May, after which they will fulfill their terms to May 2021. The appointments come after the resignations of former Ward 4 Commissioner Rodney Timm and former Ward 6 Commissioner David Vanhooser, following the Feb. 14 election.

Proclamations of appreciation were read for Timm and Vanhooser.

Ward 2 Commissioner Aaron Brownlee was absent from the meeting.

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  Jessica Miller