Macy Snyder often resorts to the same line to describe her family's purchase of the venerable Mayo Hotel back in 2001 for a modest $250,000.
"We bought the parking lot and the building came with it," she has said many times.
Anybody who chuckled at that transaction eight years ago probably isn't laughing now. The Mayo, a Tulsa landmark, will reopen several weeks from now, reborn as a boutique hotel, luxury apartments, restaurant and unparalleled events space, offering in one fell swoop some much-needed additions to downtown's hotel room and residential housing numbers.
The Snyder family, it seems, is getting ready to have the last laugh.
Looking back at her family's acquisition of the property almost a decade ago, Snyder said found it hard to imagine the building would be transformed the way it has been.
"I think it was more of a dream--a far-fetched dream," said Synder, who serves as the building's director of public relations and social events. "But Vision 2025 is what made the dream closer to reality."
The Mayo renovation, ticketed at $40 million, benefited from a $4.9 million interest-free loan the Snyders were able to secure for the project through Vision 2025 funds, the one-penny, 13-year sales tax increased passed by Tulsa County voters in 2003. The Mayo will be the first residential housing project funded by V2025 funds to open its doors, adding 76 apartments to an area that sorely needs the units.
Residents will begin moving in to the apartments--many of which already have been rented--at the beginning of September, while the hotel, restaurant and other facilities tentatively are scheduled to open for business in the middle of September. A grand opening celebration is slated for sometime around Oct. 1, Snyder said.
"It is going extremely well," Snyder said of demand for the apartments. "We're offering a product no one else is offering in Oklahoma."
The hotel will feature 102 rooms that range in size from 450 square feet to 1,200 square feet. The Mayo, constructed in 1925, will become part of the Summit Hotels & Resorts group and has earned a Historic Hotels of America designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The renovation was an extensive one, as the building essentially was gutted years ago. Snyder's family set about restoring the Mayo to its former opulence by rebuilding the grand staircase in the hall on the first floor and renovating the Crystal Ballroom on the 16th floor.
Snyder said that in the time her family has owned the Mayo, it has become clear that the memories most Tulsans have of the hotel are centered on those two elements, as well as its famous champagne brunch. As a result, she said, it became important to restore all three.
The design of the apartments and hotel rooms alike will be unusual. Among the 76 apartments, 26 different floor plans are offered, and for the 102 hotel rooms, there are 23 different floor plans. All feature wood floors and double doors, and the ceilings in each room feature boxed-in ducts and columns, giving each one a unique geometry. Many of the walls are angled, as well.
Snyder said the building's historic status meant the renovation effort had to rely on the original look whenever possible in public spaces, so the colors, fixtures and trim in those spaces reflect the look of the 1920s and 1930s.
The distinctive Mayo logo will adorn the carpeted hallways, the restaurant's china and the elevator doors.
About 70 percent of the hotel rooms will boast a full kitchen, while the others will have a butler kitchen. Only 14 of the hotel rooms will not have a living space separated from the bedroom. Each bedroom and living room will feature a 42-inch flat-screen television set.
Aside from the larger suites, Snyder said the hotel rooms will go for $150 to $250 a night, but some type of "community discount" likely will be offered in an attempt to make a stay at the Mayo affordable for a wide variety of local residents.
"It's Tulsa's hotel, and we want all of Tulsa to come here and experience it," she said.
The apartments range in size from 720 square feet to 1,900 square feet. The smallest units feature one bedroom and one bath, while the largest units have two bedrooms and two and a half baths. Rates range from $900 a month to $2,800 a month.
At least one element of the Mayo will be accessible even for those who find those prices beyond their means. The first-floor restaurant, located at the building's southwest corner, does not have a name yet, but Snyder said it will not be a fine-dining establishment, aiming more for a populist, neighborhood feel. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and feature indoor seating for 90 people, with seating for another 20 outside. Snyder said the bar--which is constructed partly of riveted steel salvaged from the penthouse boiler--will be open until 2am on weekends, hopefully serving as a gathering spot for residents.
The Topeca coffee house will continue to operate on the ground floor, while the building also will offer fitness facilities and a business center.
The building also will offer a number of gathering spots suitable for weddings, meetings, parties or other special events. The first-floor Terrace Room, formerly known as the Golden Palace, is being restored and will able to accommodate 100 to 150 people, Snyder said.
The 16th floor Crystal Ballroom, in addition to offering a spectacular view of downtown Tulsa, will serve as one of the city's premier special events center. At 4,500 square feet, it can accommodate groups of up to 300 people in surroundings that have been carefully restored, down to four original chandeliers and plaster moldings that were recreated from casts of the originals.
The 18th floor penthouse also will be available for special events or for use as a lounge by residents. Its doors will open to a roof-top garden.
Perhaps the building's most visible feature, the MAYO HOTEL sign perched on the top floor, is being refurbished and will be lit in red, as it was originally, Snyder said.
The Mayo will have secure, covered, reserved parking for its residents and hotel guests at the nearby Mayo Motor Inn, which also will feature a small market and gift shop carrying items related to the building's history.
Snyder said the idea was to provide patrons of the building, particularly those who reside there, with the means to "live, work and play" in the Mayo, returning it to the status it enjoyed decades ago, when it was one of downtown's crown jewels, playing host to the likes of Elvis Presley, J. Paul Getty, President Kennedy, Babe Ruth and Mae West.
"We really believe the Mayo should be restored," she said. "It's the people's hotel. Almost everybody in Tulsa has some memory here.
"I think it'll spur a lot more projects in the future. I think it already has."
For more information, call 582-6296 or visit www.themayohotel.com.
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