A quality hotel could become the driving force behind an economic rebirth in downtown Muskogee.
City councilors approved a $60,000 agreement with LodgeWell Development of Overland Park, Kan., to “define the preliminary scope, size, costs and potential funding sources for the project.”
The project is described as a 120-room hotel branded by a national franchise.
The idea of a quality downtown hotel is not new.
It was floated years before.
But now may be the best time to get the idea to come to fruition.
The hotel could bring many visitors to our downtown.
Businesses need foot traffic to justify investing in downtown.
Businesses, including bars, and restaurants, are reluctant to build or move downtown because there is little foot traffic after 5 or 6 p.m.
Hotel guests don’t always want to eat in the hotel.
They look for food and entertainment within walking distance.
Imagine a hotel between the Civic Center and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, for instance.
Bars and restaurants could pop up on Broadway as a result of a multi-story hotel within eyesight.
More foot traffic could help Arrowhead Mall retailers, too.
It’s a good idea.
We are not in favor of every feasibility study using taxpayer dollars.
Sixty thousand dollars could be spent elsewhere to improve the quality of our life today.
But this money is a drop in the bucket of what tax revenue could be generated by a downtown hotel and any businesses that pop up around the hotel.
If the money came from the fairly new hotel-motel tax or could be offset next fiscal year by using some of that revenue — earmarked to improve tourism — then so much the better.
Nonetheless, the potential for downtown Muskogee far outweighs that quibble.
The hotel one day could be the remembered as the seed that grew into a flourishing downtown.