Mason City council approves setting public hearing for hotel project

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City last night approved two resolutions concerning the hotel portion of the River City Renaissance project.

City officials last week announced they had finalized a development agreement with Gatehouse Mason City LLC for the construction of a hotel that would fulfill the private investment portion of the $39 million project being supported through the Iowa Reinvestment Act.

Community Development Director Steven Van Steenhuyse  says Gatehouse’s current proposal is better than the previous proposals. “A more compact designed hotel that’s much closer to the mall, and therefore will interact with the mall and downtown more efficiently. Also, with the ballroom being built as part of the hotel and all of it being connected with the skywalk, we’re going to have a convention facility that is superior to what we would have had under the original proposal.”

Councilman Joshua Masson asked City Administrator Aaron Burnett about whether Gatehouse had been properly vetted for the project. Burnett replied,  “Since the pre-development was completed, I can tell you I’ve had almost daily conversations, I’ve met with Collin from Gatehouse, I’ve met with David Ratchie, constant discussions. I would say that it becomes very apparent that the level of expertise in hotel development is evident through those negotiations. I think it would have likely gone much quicker had somebody not had that experience, because we were able to work out hiccups ahead of time by ensuring the package that we are considering here as a PSDA is one that can secure financing going forward.”

The council unanimously approved resolutions determining that the Gatehouse proposal is satisfactory while also establishing a 30-day bidding period for competing proposals, necessary under Iowa law. The council also set a public hearing for their July 23rd meeting to consider approval of the development agreement.