- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) - The decade it took for Broken Arrow to announce construction plans for its hotel and convention center was one of the longest Stoney Creek Hospitality developers had seen, said Kevin McCarty, Stoney Creek senior vice president and chief development officer.

The Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce announced this month the construction of a $26 million conference center. The five-story, 150-room hotel and conference center will sit on 8 acres north of Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow, The Journal Record reported (http://bit.ly/1sz2wNO ).

The 35,000-square-foot facility will be a public-private partnership, with Broken Arrow buying the land and performing work on infrastructure. Des Moines, Iowa-based Stoney Creek will build and operate the facility. Groundbreaking is still months away and completion of the project is not expected until late 2016.

Every project is different, McCarty said, and the Broken Arrow center had its own set of circumstances that has delayed construction, McCarty said.

“We are happy to get going on it,” McCarty said.

Stoney Creek President Jim Thompson said the company has been part of the planning from the beginning.

“I think BA officials recognized our skill,” he said, following the press conference announcing the project. “They took the time to meet us and see our operation. We invested a lot of thought and strategy into the project, offering, I believe, the best concept.”

After 10 years, Stoney Creek officials have a thick file on the planned conference center, McCarty said.

“For us, we are always working on other projects, but we have never had a project take this long - so, as we waited for this we had other work,” McCarty said, referring to projects in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. “The time for this is perfect. It works out well.”

Wes Smithwick, president and CEO of the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., said the major delay was the economy.

Voters approved funding to build a conference center on the north side of the Broken Arrow Expressway in 2004. When the project was first proposed, the economy was humming along, but city officials took too long to come up with a developer and specific plans, Smithwick said.

“Once they were ready, the real estate market and the hotel market tanked,” Smithwick said.

In addition, construction estimates came in high and voters in 2009 rejected spending additional funds.

During the recession banks stopped lending money as most construction projects were deemed risky. Over the last two years, however, banks have started easing loan restrictions.

The Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp. worked with consultants and mapped out a feasibility study, examined several locations and came up with a model that made sense, Smithwick said.

“The EDC spent a lot of time preparing a plan, deciding where the project was to be, how large, what it’s going to look like,” Smithwick said.

The hillside near Bass Pro has always been a prime location, Smithwick said.

“Without a doubt, hands down, this was the location,” Smithwick said. “The area is becoming a restaurant and hotel destination.”

Thompson said the site offers some challenges, however.

“It will be difficult in some respects,” Thompson said, referring to the steep hillside. “But we see opportunities within the site.”

Thompson said the proposed center will be an urban lodge, with a blend of eclectic elements and an aggressive room style.”

Additional funding for the center relies upon passage of Proposition No. 6, which is a $5.85 million question Broken Arrow residents will see on the Aug. 26 ballot.

During the press conference, officials said the economic impact from the conferences, trade shows and other large meetings will be immeasurable.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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