State housing agency secures funding for restoration of historic Durant building

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

DURANT, OK -- A historic building in downtown Durant is in the process of being restored, and state housing officials have jumped on board to help fund the project.

Big Five Community Services in Durant says the renovation of Hotel Bryan, also known as the Dennis Huggins Memorial Apartments, has been years in the making.

With help from the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, the reality of bringing the century old building up to standard is close.

Hotel Bryan was built in 1906, at a time when the nearby railroad was thriving.

"This hotel, when it was built, was one of the centerpieces of southern Oklahoma," Big Five Services director Kent Watson said.

The building is on both the state and National Register of Historic Places. In the late 90's, the hotel rooms were turned into apartments known as the Dennis Higgins Memorial Apartments.

By the end of this year, the building will get another make over.

"We are going to be rebuilding this project, this center, so that we can bring housing and a revitalization back to Durant," Watson said.

Thursday, representatives from the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency toured the historic building. This will be one of many historic renovations they've helped with across the state.

"We found that when you renovate an older historic hotel in a downtown rural area, it helps revitalize the downtown," Dennis Shockley said.

OHFA Executive Director, Dennis Shockley, says he hopes the restoration builds upon the pride in the Durant community. The restoration includes modernizing 24 apartments for affordable housing and restoring the old hotel lobby.

"That'll be restored like an old hotel, like it was originally in 1906," Jackson

A $750,000 HUD grant and nearly $3 million in tax credits are helping fund the project that OHFA helped secure.

"We can not restore and re-build our communities without their help. They're an integral part of rebuilding the communities of Oklahoma," Watson said.

Big Five officials say total project costs will be about $6 million.

Developers hope the first floor will be used as retail space.

"It provides another place for people to come off that freeway, and spend their dollars here," Big Five Services Kevin Jackson said.

Renovation is set to begin by the end of this year, and it's expected to be complete sometime during 2015.

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