The view from The Oread
Owners of The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave., along with management, construction members and the media, gathered Wednesday on the top-floor observation deck of the structure for a celebration of reaching the height of the building construction.
Here are some facts about The Oread, at 12th and Indiana streets.
• Size: 99 guest rooms, plus about nine privately owned condos that will be on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of the building.
• Height: Nine stories above ground, plus four levels below ground that includes 200 parking spaces. Altogether, the building is 113 feet tall, which is one foot below the maximum height the city ultimately set. Previously, the hotel had been billed as a seven-story structure, but the city allowed for changes in the number of stories as long as the overall height regulations were met.
• Amenities: The project features three hotel-operated restaurants, including: Bird Dog Bar, which will feature traditional bar fare and drinks; 521, a more upscale restaurant featuring American cuisine; and a Slice of History, a pizza and salad bar restaurant. Also on tap is a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, a Blue Bell ice cream counter, a Lemon Bliss Spa, and a KU Bookstore souvenir and gift shop. The hotel also will offer one nightclub, The Cave, a dance club 80 feet below ground in the hotel’s lower level.
• Employees: The hotel is expected to have about 230 full- and part-time employees.
You look the Campanile in the eye.
Downtown Lawrence is stretched out before you — the top of the US Bank Tower exposed, the blue Granada sign popping out in a way that it doesn’t from Massachusetts Street. You can catch glimpses of the Clinton Lake dam to the west, semis on I-70 to the north and trees as far as the eye can see to the south.
“I’ve never seen Douglas County quite like this,” said City Commissioner Lance Johnson.
This is why developers of The Oread wanted their hotel — at 12th and Indiana streets on the north edge of Kansas University — to stretch nine stories above the ground.
‘A special place’
On Wednesday, executives of the hotel showed off the top floor terrace of the hotel to invited community leaders and media members to celebrate the completion of the main structure of the hotel that is expected to open for business in January.
“Our vision has been to bring a special place into the city of Lawrence, the University of Kansas and the Midwest,” said Nancy Longhurst, who will serve as general manager of the 99-room hotel.
First impressions were positive from those who took the terrace tour.
“There’s not a better way to see the entire campus at one time,” said Jeff Weinberg, assistant to Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
The rows of red roofs that line Jayhawk Boulevard were mentioned as a favorite sight of some who attended the event. For others, the smaller details deeper on the horizon — the balcony of the chancellor’s house, the crown of Mount Blue, the outline of a concrete plant in far-off eastern Lawrence — captivated their attentions.
“The really fun part is just coming up here, looking around and guessing what the different landmarks are,” said Thomas Fritzel, who leads a group of local businessmen including Tim Fritzel and Todd Sutherland who are building the project. “We all believe that this hotel will help bring people to our community, which is something we desperately need.”
Talk of what type of economic development impact the nearly $40 million project is expected to have also was heavy on Wednesday. Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she expects the hotel to attract new conferences to the area.
She said several area meeting planners have begun to take tours of the project.
“There already is a lot of interest from groups that haven’t been so interested in Lawrence before,” Billings said. “It is not just a unique view. It is a unique property for this area. It is different than what you will find in Topeka or even in Kansas City.”
The hotel, though, is not expected to be the type of project that attracts large-scale conventions to the city. Billings said she expected smaller conferences — probably in the 100- to 200-person range — to become a staple of the hotel.
The hotel will include a ballroom that can accommodate 270 people, plus three smaller conference rooms that can hold 40 to 60 people each. Larger meeting spaces in the Kansas Union and the Kansas University Alumni Center also are within walking distance.
The hotel also will feature three outdoor terraces — a fifth-floor terrace that can hold about 300 people, the top-floor terrace that can accommodate about 190, and a smaller second-floor terrace.
All the terraces will be available for conference and wedding events, but Longhurst said there also will be several opportunities each year for the general public to have access to the terraces.
“We’re planning on having taco nights or burger nights up here on the terrace,” Longhurst said. “And we’ll have outdoor furniture and all that to make it very comfortable. We want the community to be able to see this.”