First National close to finish line

Published Wednesday, January 26, 2022
by Cathy O'Connor

This spring will be an exciting time for Oklahoma City, Gary Brooks and the team at Cornerstone Development as they bring one of our most significant and iconic landmarks, the First National Center, to life again, 90 years after it first opened.

The First National Center is a mix of a 146-room Marriott Autograph Hotel, 193 apartments, restaurants, 20,000 square feet of retail and meeting rooms. Tellers Café will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Great Hall, the lobby to the hotel, living room for apartment residents and an event destination with its dramatic, hand-restored 50 foot ceiling. Also opening are Stock and Bond Steakhouse, Library of Distilled Spirits in the former bank vault, two private dining rooms – the Mint and the Beacon – and the much-anticipated Guilded Acorn, led by Chefs Andrew Black and Rudy Koury. The hotel will open in March, along with several of the restaurants, and the apartments will see first residents in February.

First National is also an outstanding example of a complex economic development project. Gary Brooks credits the support of the city of Oklahoma City and the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City as being essential for making the purchase and restoration possible. Several economic development incentives were utilized.

The First National is located in a TIF district, which allows the development team a period of time to utilize property taxes above the pre-renovation level to develop the property. Additionally, the property qualified for a federal Section 108 loan. Every year, the city of Oklahoma City receives Community Development Block Grants to be used to support community development activities. The city borrowed against the CDBG, loaned it to the owners of First National and pledged a portion of it to “backstop” the funds and protect the city from risk. Because the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it qualified for Historic Tax Credits.

First National is expected to add approximately 300 permanent jobs in Oklahoma City with a payroll of more than $11 million a year and is expected to draw new events and more tourism. The undertaking is also about preserving our history and bringing a stunning Art Deco icon back to life to serve our city for another 90 years.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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