|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • Hotel/Motel|
|Built: • 1970 | Abandoned: • 2006|
|Status: • Under Renovation|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team|
The Lincoln Plaza and Hotel became one of the most utilized and important areas for business in the Oklahoma City area. A place with stories of legendary status including alleged secret stays by Elvis Presley. Former Gov. George Nigh still recalls running into Presley in a stairway on one of those visits. “My campaign for re-election for lieutenant governor was based in a room we rented in that hotel,” Nigh said. “One night I was up working, and instead of going to the elevator to go get something from my car, I walked down the stairway. I stopped, shook his hand and told him how much I enjoyed his music,” Nigh said. “He, of course, said ‘thank you very much…’ ”
The Lincoln Office Plaza broke ground on June 12, 1967, and set to be one of the most unique industrial office plazas ever known. John Lewis, President of First Fidelity Corp., headed the 24-acre project planning to include a hotel, trade mart, offices, and underground parking. The project was estimated to cost $15 million dollars sparing no expense to make an ultra-modern hub with plans to have a trade mart that would be a competitor with Dallas as a wholesale shipping hub. The Wilson Building was the first to be completed which would house offices was completed in 1969. There was a rush put on construction after the Wilson & Co. announced it was going to move its headquarters there from Chicago.
The second part of phase one quickly doubled the estimated cost of the complex and time was of the essence to get the complex in fully functioning capacity. The Lincoln Plaza Inn and later Quality Inn would feature 312 rooms that Lewis boasted would be the largest and most beautiful facilities in Oklahoma. Its grand opening was on September 20, 1970, with an open house inviting guest hopefuls to tour the grounds and enjoy the tasteful decor and amenities. The third phase was the trade center which had temporarily stopped being worked on while the completion of the hotel and office center had been underway. After its completion, it had It also included a dinner theater with a rotating stage, a 14,000 square-foot ballroom, two meeting rooms and multiple permanent showrooms.
During the eighties profits were up, hitting a forty-six percent increase in 1981 from the prior year. In 1982 Linton D. Kingsbury president, succeeding John S. Lewis who had retired. In 1984, the hotel was sold for $20 million to Muga Inc. The ‘Wilson Building’ was renamed the Baron Building after Baron Management. But by the time of the purchase the collapse of Penn Square Bank had triggered a severe economic depression throughout the state. Lincoln Boulevard which was known for its industrial tycoons, travelers, and business gurus hub became havens for prostitutes and drug dealers.
The property frequently changed hands throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Owners in 1991 promised an overhaul and managed to bring in new furniture bought at auctions of the closed Heritage USA. That plan ended with a foreclosure in 1993 and was followed by more promised comebacks. Another set of owners in 1998 would rebrand the hotel as a Ramada and feature a theme restaurant owned by legendary coach Jimmy Johnson. The Ramada banner didn’t stay up for long as the hotel tower closed, the restaurant followed after just 18 months.
As the Lincoln Plaza’s fortunes continued to fade, Tom Parrish had dreamed of developing the property after having memories there as a teen and later. Having business with the Baron Building this was an in for him to get acquainted with the hotel owners, they liked Parrish and wanted him to buy the hotel. “It had been making money, but the previous owners had taken it out and were not putting it back into the hotel,” Parrish said. “The current owners at the time were in their 70s and telling me ‘come on kid, you can do it. Just make us an offer.'” Parrish replied he didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship and felt his offer might be insulting. His offer was rejected, but the owners came back with a counter-offer of $2 million, Parrish took the deal the same year that the hotel closed in 2006. Over a few years, Tom Parrish stripped the hotel of its contents, removed brush and debris from the exterior, and stripped the inside carpeting, wallpapering and paint as well as sold the furniture bought several years ago. But Tom Parrish was in over his head and eventually sold the complex to a prominent developer in the area, Richard Tanenbaum.
Tanenbaum faced an unusual situation with Lincoln Plaza when he first bought the hotel portion the separately owned office complex was tied up in litigation. “It was in a major lawsuit with the insurance company,” Tanenbaum said. “And I stay away from those scenarios. But I did inquire from time to time because there were some cross-access scenarios and I knew we would have to deal with that if we ever developed the six-story building.”And in 2016 Tanenbaum purchased the office complex in an online auction. But the development of the two properties was not easy as plan after plan was discussed. Tanenbaum got the approval of historic tax credits in 2019 and Capstone Construction was hired to start work. The new Presley Apartments have been moving along wonderfully and will be ready for move-in by October of 2021. Their website details a fun lively community, being Oklahoma City’s brightest place for the modern downtown lifestyle. Featuring live events, amenities, and easy access to everything the city has to offer.
[Photograph 2012.201.OVZ001.0196], photograph, 1970; (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc1696754/: accessed July 5, 2021), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
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