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New downtown Best Western opens; owners turn their attention to the Hartford, YMCA buildings
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Downtown: Best Western now open

New downtown Best Western opens; owners turn their attention to the Hartford, YMCA buildings

Owners shift focus to Hartford, YMCA

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Once again, the Snyder and Bhow families have breathed new life into a disused downtown property.

Their latest success is the new Best Western Plus Downtown Tulsa/Route 66 Hotel, which was formerly an office building owned by the city of Tulsa. Though new hotels typically take some time to ramp up, Neal Bhow said it’s gotten a boost thanks to the neighboring Cox Business Center and the BOK Center.

“The reaction’s been overwhelmingly positive since we opened last month,” he said. “We had a strong start with the Rush concert, a volleyball competition and other events.”

The formerly red brick building now has a gray and blue paint job, and the offices made way for 79 rooms. Though renovating older buildings for new purposes can bring a number of quirks and challenges, Bhow said the structure of the building at 707 S. Houston Ave. lent itself well to a $5 million hotel transformation.

Though the Snyders’ Mayo Hotel and the Aloft Tulsa Downtown, formerly the city hall before the Snyder and Bhow families reworked it, are both aimed at more upscale travelers, the Best Western was built to provide downtown with a more affordable option. Rates start at $80.99 per night.

Bhow said the strategy has pulled in a diverse array of travelers.

“It’s been a wide mix,” he said. “We’ve got leisure travelers, families coming in for sporting events, and people coming in for hospital visits. It’s been cool to see the different people booking rooms.”

Though the project’s completion doesn’t mean the families will sit idle. The families now have two more downtown conversions they’re pursuing.

Of the two, the $10 million conversion of the former YMCA building, at Sixth Street and Denver Avenue, into 82 affordable apartments is further along. Bhow said the interior demolition is complete, and interior construction has begun.

“Right now workers are inside putting up the dividing walls,” Bhow said.

Because the group has pursued historical tax credits, the exterior of the building will look much the same as it did when it was built in 1953. Though that development has experienced delays, Bhow said it’s now 12 to 14 months away from completion.

The two are also still planning to convert the former Hartford Building at 110 S. Hartford Ave. into offices, apartments and retail space. The Hartford Building has been vacant since the city of Tulsa moved offices from there in 2008.

Bhow said they’re still working on the design of the building, which is still expected to have new construction on its west side onto the current parking lot.

However, they’re carefully adjusting the proportions of each of the elements in light of the large amount of residential construction downtown.

“We’re still debating the size and amount of units,” Bhow said. “We’re trying to figure the need, since there are a lot of apartments coming.”

“We feel the east end of downtown is going to explode, and we want to do the right thing.”

Robert Evatt 918-581-8447

robert.evatt@tulsaworld.com

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