Hotel Rooms Planned For Atlas Life Building

Monday, March 3rd 2008, 6:57 pm
By: News On 6

There's new life for downtown Tulsa, and new life for the Atlas Life Building.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports a local developer will renovate the landmark office tower into a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel. 

Studies show that downtown Tulsa will need around 500 to 700 more hotel rooms to service the new arena.  With 120-rooms, the Atlas Building Hotel is a big start.

Since 1922, the Atlas Life Building has stood watch over Boston Avenue in downtown Tulsa.

"Just fell in love with the Atlas Life.  It's almost made for a hotel," said developer Jeff Hartman.

Developer Jeff Hartman, who has three new hotels in the suburbs, is making his first attempt at renovating an old building, and the challenges that entails.

"We don't know.  It's one of those things where you don't know what you've got until you start tearing down walls and seeing what's behind it," said Hartman.

But, that's one of the reasons, he says, they chose to partner with Marriott, which he says has a lot of experience with reviving old buildings.  The buzzword is adaptive re-use.

With such an iconic building though, they realized some things should stay unchanged, namely the Atlas Grill and the Tulsa Press Club.

"It's interesting what becomes one of the first two questions people ask, and that's it, are you keeping the Atlas Grill, are you keeping the Tulsa Press Club?  And, we absolutely are," said developer Jeff Hartman.

It's good news for the city which has the weight of downtown re-development on its shoulders.

"We need additional hotel rooms, so perfect location and preserving one of Tulsa's icons, the Atlas Life Building," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.

For clientele, it's the usual suspects of high-income business travelers, and visitors to the arena.  But Hartman says the building itself will be a draw.

"There's another market too that is actually out there when you renovate a historical building and that is tourism that goes and see unique destination-type properties like this.  So, we think we'll pretty successful with that, too," said Hartman.

As for parking, they say they're negotiating with the owner of the PhilTower Parking Garage next door.

They say they could always rely on valet parking as well.  The entire renovation is expected to cost $15 million.