Brick­town build out

Hous­ing, ho­tels, street­car bring­ing life to east Brick­town

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - BUSINESS - BY STEVE LACKMEYER Busi­ness Writer slack­meyer@ok­la­homan.com

The 35-foot steel beam en­try­way sign for the Steel­yard is set to emerge in east Brick­town this month as work wraps up on a mix of apart­ments, re­tail and ho­tels.

The trans­for­ma­tion of the once in­dus­trial end of Brick­town has spanned sev­eral years but has gained mo­men­tum with the open­ing of the Cri­te­rion con­cert hall last year and the Springhill Suites ho­tel over the sum­mer.

Devel­oper Gary Brooks is ex­pect­ing res­i­dents will be­gin mov­ing into the first pre­leased apart­ments at The Steel­yard this fall, while leas­ing bro­ker Al­li­son Bai­ley is in talks with res­tau­rant and re­tail op­er­a­tors to move into store­fronts along the first floor of the res­i­dences fac­ing Sheri­dan Av­enue be­tween Joe Carter and Char­lie Chris­tian Av­enues.

The first phase of The Steel­yard in­cludes 250 apart­ments and 17,000 square feet of re­tail with con­struc­tion to start in about a year on a sec­ond phase that ex­tends the de­vel­op­ment to Lin­coln Boule­vard with an­other 150 apart­ments and 9,000 square feet of re­tail.

Mak­ing rooms

At the north­east cor­ner of Joe Carter and Sheri­dan Av­enues, Jim Mullins is over­see­ing fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for a Novem­ber open­ing of the 150-room AC by Mar­riott. Mullins, gen­eral man­ager at the AC, has watched the trans­for­ma­tion of east Brick­town, which in­cludes con­struc­tion of the ad­join­ing Hy­att Place and in­stal­la­tion of street­car tracks across the street from the two ho­tels.

“It’s amaz­ing in the short time I’ve been here to see ev­ery­thing that is go­ing on; with the trol­ley sys­tem com­ing in, the new apart­ments, this area of Brick­town is re­ally chang­ing.”

A decade ago, the area was an un­sightly en­try to the dis­trict filled with decades-old steel build­ings that once were home to Ste­wart Metal Fabri­ca­tors. The plant spanned 200,000 square feet

on both sides of Sheri­dan Av­enue, em­ploy­ing up to 400 peo­ple mak­ing switch­ing equip­ment for AT&T be­fore it shut down in 2003.

The en­try from Lin­coln Boule­vard starts with the Springhill Suites and a park­ing lot soon to be land­scaped and lit on the south­west cor­ner at Sheri­dan Av­enue. The sec­ond phase of The Steel­yard will be built across the street.

The AC by Mar­riott, mean­while, serves as the new gate­way into east Brick­town at Joe Carter and Sheri­dan Av­enues.

The ho­tel, still an ac­tive con­struc­tion site, is closer to com­ple­tion than one might guess. The pre­assem­bled rooms that were shipped into Brick­town and stacked up in rapid or­der ar­rived fully built out and fur­nished, only await­ing linens.

“This build­ing has been put to­gether in such a way that the AC could be hit by a tor­nado and the only thing that might shat­ter is the glass,” Mullins said. “All of the units are put to­gether in such a way that they have a metal

plate struc­ture through­out the com­plex.”

Lo­cal ameni­ties

The AC Ho­tel will in­clude two lo­cally pro­duced pieces of public art, in­clud­ing the “En­twine” sculp­ture by Norman artist Jonathan Hills. The piece, 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide, will be placed at the south­west cor­ner of the AC Ho­tel and is in­spired by the artist's “Fla­menco” sculp­ture in Paseo. The sculp­ture will con­sist of laser-cut, welded and pow­der­coated steel.

The sec­ond piece of art, cre­ated to screen the ho­tel’s trash bins, will be re­vealed to the public next month.

Mar­ble im­ported from Italy, mean­while, is used through­out the lounge and lobby. The fin­ishes and op­er­a­tion are all de­signed to set the AC above its com­peti­tors in Brick­town, Mullins said. He be­lieves the prop­erty, sur­rounded by re­tail, restau­rants, apart­ments and the Cri­te­rion, will be pop­u­lar with both vis­i­tors and lo­cals.

“When in­di­vid­u­als visit

our AC in Brick­town, they can ex­pect an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mullins said. “It’s all Euro­pean-based, the food, the bev­er­age, the lounge . ... We also will have a unique drink de­vel­oped by AC. The Gin­tonic is made with Hen­dricks gin and a tonic water only made in Europe.”

The lounge, with seat­ing for 68, opens up to the cor­ner of Joe Carter and Sheri­dan and will in­clude an out­door pa­tio for daily break­fasts.

“Ev­ery­thing evolves around the lounge,” Mullins said. “We will have a five o'clock show that will be put on by our mixol­o­gists . ... They will pop open a bot­tle of Cham­pagne and share it with ev­ery­one in the lounge.”

[PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

The Steel­yard apart­ments and re­tail, shown in the fore­ground, and the AC by Mar­riott to the west, are cre­at­ing a new ex­tended sky­line for Brick­town.

ABOVE: The AC by Mar­riott marks the west gate­way to the Steel­yard sec­tion of Brick­town.

[PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OK­LA­HOMAN] PRO­VIDED] [PHOTO

LEFT: The steel I-beam sign that will greet vis­i­tors to The Steel­yard is set to be erected later this month.

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