EDMOND — It’s being called the big house on the prairie, and soon the new Edmond Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn will be surrounded by new development.
Just two years ago, the land near Covell and Sooner roads was nothing more than a two-way stop and fields, but on Dec. 12 the conference center and hotel will be open.
“We are the big house on the prairie,” said Jesse Krewall, general manager for the Hilton Garden Inn. “I remember when there was nothing out here.”
Business for the new 20,000-square-foot conference center already is booking up with 50 events planned through 2019, totaling more than $700,000 in sales. The space can hold up to a 1,000 people.
The conference center, which is attached to the six-story 158-bed hotel, is multifunctional with room dividers for the multiple conference rooms.
The main ballroom includes chandeliers from Europe and a large window that opens to allow for large items to be brought in. The Edmond Convention and Visitors Bureau is also in the conference center.
“It is already exceeding my expectations,” Krewall said.
Features of the new hotel will cater to those staying there with a pool, workout center and free parking. However, the restaurant will be open to the public for lunch and dinner, along with the bar.
Krewall also is planning to sell local products in the hotel convenience store and is asking the community to talk with him about featuring products.
“We want to sell from locally here in Edmond, but also all of Oklahoma,” Krewall said.
Many features including a mobile app check-in system have been added for the convenience of business travelers and those wishing to skip the process.
The hotel is at 2833 Conference Drive, and reservations can be made by calling 285-0900.
“There will be a lot of stuff coming to this area,” City Planning Director Randy Entz said.
Groundbreaking on a ShowBiz cinema and bowling alley will start in the next few weeks as it becomes the first movie theater to be built in the city since Kickingbird in 1988.
“We are really excited to tap into this underserved market,” said Kevin Mitchell, president and CEO of ShowBiz Cinemas. “It is going to be a true destination zone.”
The cinema will include 10 screens, 14 bowling lanes, arcade, upscale bar and a restaurant in the 64,000-square-foot building.
Seats in the theaters will feature electric reclining. There also will be 30 different bowling games.
About 150 jobs will be created, most being part-time. Construction is expected to be finished in November 2018.
Crest Foods is on hold for another year as the company looks to save up for what is planned to be a 100,000-square-foot grocery store on the northwest corner of Covell and Sooner roads.
“We are very anxious about this store and know it is going to be a great addition for the area,” said Bruce Harroz, CEO and president of Crest.
Crews now are getting dirt work and other drainage completed on the property, Harroz said. The store design will mirror the new one in Norman but have a few design variations to reflect Edmond.
The company is based out of the store on 15th Street and Santa Fe, and this is expected to be its second store in Edmond.
BancFirst has bought property on the northwest corner of Covell Road and Progressive Drive in hopes of building another location.
The building concept will be similar to the location at Covell and Kelly roads, Edmond BancFirst President Mark Lisle said.
With all the activity in the area, the decision is a great investment for the bank, he said. A timeline on when construction will begin has not been set, but he expects it to be several years out.
Braum’s is expected to be open in January at the corner of Market Street and Covell.
The new store is part of the company’s “market design” with fresh produce and grocery, along with the traditional burgers and ice cream. This store will open before the store at 1001 E Danforth Road is rebuilt for six months.
On the east side of Braum’s, construction on a Starbucks and small strip mall also has begun along Covell.
A sports complex is expected to be developed northeast of the new hotel and conference center, but a date has not been set on when construction will begin. However, the owner of the development still is paying the lease, City Planning Director Randy Entz said.
McDonald’s was expected to move into the area but has let its site plan expire and has not filled another one, Entz said.