Restoring a historic hotel — one floor at a time

August 11, 2010

Four members of a family that includes an architect and a contractor have started a piecemeal restoration strategy to restore the historic 20-story Mayo Hotel in Tulsa, Okla., after several failed attempts. The hotel has been vacant since it closed in 1982.

The 78-year-old building is owned by Mayo LLC, which purchased it in 2001 for $250,000. Mayo LLC's principals are Maj. Charles Snyder USAF (Ret.) and three of his sons, John, James, and Charles. John is president of Tulsa-based Manhattan Construction Co., and James is president of Charlotte-based A/E Odell Associates.

The National Register-listed property, modeled on the Plaza Hotel in New York, was built in 1925 by John and Cass Mayo. Notable guests have included Elvis Presley, President Kennedy, and Joe DiMaggio. J. Paul Getty lived there for several years.

The Snyders launched their comeback plan last year by turning the hotel basement into a 40-vehicle parking facility. Next, they refurbished the first-floor lobby and mezzanine, which have been booked almost every weekend for weddings and events, including the inaugural ball for Gov. Brad Henry. The venture is now producing a cash flow that is being reinvested in the property.

Refurbishing the building's upper floors could take place over the next 5-10 years, depending on the outcome of an upcoming bond referendum to finance a new $183 million sports arena and convention center. If the issue passes, from seven to 10 floors of the building may be developed as a boutique hotel. If it fails, "it will definitely be a slow process," says John Snyder. The ultimate goal is to convert at least some of the space into condominium apartments.

John Snyder says that Mayo LLC is strictly a family affair. "We keep our regular jobs separate," he says, adding that the project "takes up my weekends, for sure."

         
 

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