Bricktown build out
Housing, hotels, streetcar bringing life to east Bricktown
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
LEFT: The steel I-beam sign that will greet visitors to The Steelyard is set to be erected later this month.