Photo courtesy of Skirvin
If you've been to the Skirvin Hilton in recent weeks, you've noticed construction and fresh finishes throughout the historic hotel. The Skirvin has been an important investment both publicly and privately, and is arguably Oklahoma City's most important historic preservation project to date.
The Skirvin opened in 1911 but sat vacant and deteriorating for years after closing in 1988. The city purchased the hotel in July of 2002, and the hotel reopened in February of 2007. The $56.4 million funding plan approved by the City Council in 2006 included a mix of public and private sources. The public investment called for repayment through loan proceeds, ground lease payments based on the success of the hotel and a portion of the proceeds from the future sale of the hotel.
It was expected that lease and interest revenues would be between $2.8 million and $4.7 million by now, but actual revenue exceeded $8 million. The revenue includes $700,000 used to repay a brownfields loan used on the project. The remainder of the revenue has been set aside in the Economic Development Fund of the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority for use in funding future redevelopment projects. Along with lease and interest payments, the city has benefited from additional sales tax on hotel activity as well as the state's match on a portion of the sales tax.
The return on investment of the project has far exceeded original expectations, and the financial returns will assist with future development projects such as a proposed headquarters hotel adjacent to the new MAPS 3 Convention Center. Besides providing necessary accommodations for the new convention center, the 500- to 800-room, upscale hotel would provide jobs and be a catalyst for additional development in the Core to Shore area. A hotel adjacent to the new convention center would have dramatic views of downtown and the new MAPS 3 park, and would be a welcome addition to the mix of hotels, including the Skirvin, that serve our thriving downtown. It is expected that a recommendation for a hotel developer will go to the City Council within the next few months.
Oklahoma City has a track record of successful development through public/private partnerships, as evidenced by the success of the Skirvin Hotel. Through careful consideration and thoughtful planning, we will continue this trend of success.