Lauren Mendenhall and her baby Cormack enjoy the new Centennial Park in downtown Midland.
“Its really nice to have something in the middle of downtown to do something.”
The four-acre park offers a lot, but before it was built starting in 2017, there were plans for something much bigger. A hotel tower.
“It was going to have all the amenities,” says former Midland Mayor Jerry Morales.
Morales says in 2015 there were talks of a 50-story, four-start hotel to be built where Centennial Park currently sits. Besides hotel rooms, there were also plans to have office and retail space in the tower.
“During that time oil was $100 a barrel,” says Morales. “So midland was on fire, fastest growing city in the nation. When you have a business of this magnitude, it’s going to put midland on the map.”
Energy Related Properties was the developer behind the proposed project. Three buildings, including the Midland County Courthouse, were already demolished, so there was plenty of space.
But according to Morales, there was one big issue. Money.
“What we learned was hotels that were interested in building in Midland always wanted an incentive,” says Morales. “When the final package was proposed, from a financial stand point we just knew we couldn’t support that.”
The original project was estimated to cost $500 million, but then it got redesigned to be less expensive. Instead it was conceptualized into a two-tower proposal that cost $300 million, but it still didn’t pan out.
We reached out to Energy Related Properties about the proposed tower and what happened, but they did not get back to us.
Now the space is Centennial Park, which was always a possibility even during talks about the tower.
It opened Thanksgiving of 2020 and is now a popular spot for families and children to play at.
“We wanted to bring people that aren’t working in the downtown area, get them in downtown,” says Stephanie Martin, executive director of the Midland Downtown Park Conservancy. Get them to see how our downtown is growing and expanding.”
Despite what’s considered the aftermath of a “failed project”, Midlanders we spoke with say the park brings charm to downtown.
“It takes what could have been a more industrial area and just makes it look more natural because of all the trees and grass,” says Mendenhall.
Morales says there is still a chance of a upscale hotel coming to downtown Midland, but nothing has been determined yet.