Osler overhaul

After selling the Colcord to Devon Energy in 2008, he is re-entering the Oklahoma City market with plans for a hotel in MidTown.

This time, he plans to convert the seven-story, blond-brick Osler building, 1200 N. Walker, into one of his Ambassador-branded hotels. Coury closed the $2.5 million deal in early December.

As chairman of the Ambassador Hotel Collection, he decided in recent years to put all of his hotels under the same name; he has Ambassadors in Tulsa, Kansas City and Wichita.

“We decided there was more cross-marketing with all the hotels if we had a brand, so people know what to expect,” he says.

Records from the Oklahoma Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places show that the Osler was built in three phases. The first three floors were constructed in 1928, three more floors were added in 1929, and the seventh floor was added in the mid to late 1940s.

Oklahoma City architecture firm Hawk & Parr, one of the most prominent local firms in the first half of the 20th century, designed the building in the Mission/ Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style. It was added to the register in 2012.

Built by the Physicians Holding Company as medical offices in 1929, the building housed 35 medical specialists, three dentists and the Balyeat Allergy Clinic.

ENTER THE RENAISSANCE

The Osler was acquired by MidTown Renaissance in 2006, and has sat vacant since. Chris Fleming, part of the MidTown group that includes Bob Howard and Mickey Clagg, says the team looked at options for the building, including residential use, but the U-shaped, 45,000-square-foot property was designed for office space, and is not conducive to apartments with the required area needed for kitchens.

Then Coury came to them with the idea for a hotel.

“What’s a hotel room but an apartment without a kitchen?” Fleming says.

Coury owns the building; MidTown Renaissance will be a minority partner in the hotel.

“We feel that Paul, with his track record and what he’s planning to do with that property, really adds to everything else we’re doing in the neighborhood,” Fleming says.

Coury plans to spend $13 million on renovations. It will include 54 rooms, a restaurant, a rooftop bar, and a swimming and recreation area at the back of the building on its east side.

By comparison, the Tulsa Ambassador was a $10 million project and opened in 1999; the Colcord was a $15 million endeavor and opened in 2006.

Coury says room rates will likely average about $170-$180 per night. He plans to make the hotel’s pricing competitive with other upscale properties Downtown.

Since the project is Downtown, it falls under the purview of the Downtown Design Review Committee. At the November meeting, Coury and his architect, Catherine Montgomery with AIA Preservation & Design Studio, presented the plan. Aside from some concerns over the appearance of stairway towers at the back of the building, Coury received a thumbs-up. He plans to open the hotel by the end of 2013.

Fleming is anxious to add a boutique hotel to the tapestry of MidTown.

“Every good neighborhood has to have a number of complementary uses, and one of those uses is hotel/lodging,” he says. “This really gets us there in a first-class way, which is what we’re all about.”

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