Street plan delays Aloft hotel opening
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 7:31 AM
The "soft opening" of a hotel that is under construction in the former City Hall building has been pushed back from mid-February until April as the city awaits road construction plans that would give firefighters access to the building.
Tulsa Fire Department spokesman Stan May said the developers of the Aloft hotel would not be granted their temporary certificate of occupancy until the city's Engineering Department has received and approved final plans for the extension of Fifth Street to the hotel's entrance on the Tulsa Civic Center Plaza.
"In order for it to operate full-time as a hotel, they have to have bid-ready plans (for the extension) and have alternative access to at least one side of that building," May said. "And so far there are not plans that are bid-ready that have been presented, so there is no way to determine what the alternative route could be."
According to a development schedule provided to the city by the developer, TOCH LLC, the final bid documents for the street extension are scheduled to be completed in early April. The extension will be complete Sept. 1, the schedule states.
City officials outlined a similar timeline on Monday, saying it would take a minimum of 60 days from the time they receive bid-ready plans for the Fifth Street extension to the start of construction. It would then take a minimum of 90 days to complete the extension.
"We are very anxious to get them up and operating, but safety is our No. 1 concern," said Paul Zachary, the city's Engineering Services Department director.
Lee Levinson, an investor in the project, said the fire marshal is rightfully concerned about access to the building but that the developers have alternate routes available to get fire trucks to the hotel during construction of the Fifth Street extension.
He said the hotel would be one of the safest in the city.
"We should have the preliminary plans (for the Fifth Street extension) to the city this week," Levinson said.
TOCH LLC is made up of Brickhugger LLC and investors Neal Bhow, Bruce Taylor and Levinson. Brickhugger principals John and Tori Snyder redeveloped the historic Mayo Hotel and the Detroit Lofts.
The Aloft hotel project includes a partnership with the city to reopen Fifth Street from Denver to Frisco avenues, the street that stretches through the parking area along the east side of the Tulsa Convention Center.
The entrance to the hotel will be on the south side of the former City Hall building at the plaza level.
The plan is ultimately to open Fifth Street into a two-lane, one-way street.
Zachary said Monday that the city has identified $5 million in surplus money from the 2008 Fix Our Streets bond package to fund the street project.
The 11-story former City Hall building and the detached City Council Chamber building were built in 1969.
TOCH LLC purchased it for $1.3 million.
John Snyder said in November that he hoped to have the hotel ready for a soft opening in mid-February to coincide with the BassMaster Classic fishing tournament.
The developers have said previously that Aloft hotels are designed to appeal to young travelers and business people alike. Nightly rates at the new hotel are expected to be $129 or less, and free wireless Internet access will be available throughout the property.
The hotel will have a lounge and fitness area and an outdoor pool.
The suites on the 11th floor - where the mayor's office once was - will include full kitchens, glass tile mosaic walls, robotic toilets and huge bathroom mirrors that also serve as TV and computer screens.
Original Print Headline: Street plan will delay Aloft hotel opening
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Aloft hotel rendering. COURTESY
The former City Hall building is in the process of being transformed into an Aloft hotel. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World