Basin Business: Proposed ‘Energy Tower’ Now Home to Centennial Park

Lauren Mendenhall and her baby Cormack enjoy the new Centennial Park in downtown Midland.

“It’s 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 from 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 that in 2015 there were talks of building a 50-story four-star hotel where Centennial Park now stands. Besides the hotel rooms, it was also planned to have offices and commercial spaces in the tower.

“At that time, oil was $100 a barrel,” Morales explains. “So Midland was on fire, the fastest growing city in the country. When you have a business of this scale, it’s going to put Midland on the map.

Energy Related Properties was the proponent of the proposed project. Three buildings, including the Midland County Courthouse, had already been demolished, so there was plenty of room.

But according to Morales, there was a big problem. Money.

“What we learned was that hotels that wanted to build in Midland always wanted an incentive,” says Morales. “When the final package was offered, from a financial standpoint, we just knew we couldn’t support this.”

The original project was estimated at $500 million, but it was later redesigned to be cheaper. Instead, it was conceptualized into a two-round proposal that cost $300 million, but it still didn’t pan out.

We contacted Energy Related Properties about the proposed tower and what happened, but they did not respond.

Now the space is Centennial Park, which was always a possibility even during the tower talks.

It opened Thanksgiving in 2020 and is now a popular spot for families and kids.

“We wanted to bring people who don’t work downtown, bring them downtown,” says Stephanie Martin, executive director of the Midland Downtown Park Conservancy. Show them how our downtown is growing and expanding.

Despite what are seen as the consequences of a “failed project,” the Midlanders we spoke to say the park brings charm to the city center.

“It takes what could have been a more industrial area and makes it look more natural because of all the trees and grass,” Mendenhall says.

Morales says there’s still a chance an upscale hotel will come to downtown Midland, but nothing has been determined yet.

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