City staff starting to plan timeline for River City Renaiassance project

MASON CITY — The preliminary work is starting to progress on the River City Renaissance project. Last week, the City Council in Mason City approved a development agreement with G8 Development to construct a hotel in the southeastern portion of the main Southbridge Mall parking lot. G8 submitted a competitive bid after Gatehouse Mason City LLC made numerous changes in a proposed development agreement with the city, which in turned opened up a 30-day window of opportunity under Iowa Code which other proposals had to be considered.

Interim City Administrator Kevin Jacobson told the council this week that city staff will start to look at planning out a schedule for the entire project. He says he’ll be sitting down with City Engineer Mark Rahm and Development Services Director Steven Van Steenhuyse to set up a timeline for the whole project. “It will kind of give us a preliminary timeline on when things need to start taking place, and when things need to be completed so we can make that December 31st 2019 date.”

Jacobson says since the approval of the G8 plan last week, the developer has been working with banks in Mason City and North Carolina on finalizing the financing for the project. He says the city has had several e-mail conversations with G8 in the last week. “They currently have their flag (for the hotel), they’re working with Live Oak on financing, and speaking with First Citizens as this continues. The city is working with Ahlers to get completion of the final purchase, sale and development agreement. That agreement will come forward at the December 28th meeting.”

Jacobson was asked to clarify that the hotel project would still happen in the Southbridge Mall parking lot, instead of the City Hall parking lot where G8 had previously proposed a hotel development. He says, “The project is in the same location as the initial Gatehouse project within the mall parking lot. The components of that project are the hotel, the skywalk, the convention area, and the museum. Nothing has changed, that’s all the same.”

Jacobson and other city leaders will update the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors on December 15th about the project. The city has been seeking up to $10 million in state financing for the $39 million project, which also includes a new ice arena and multi-purpose center in Southbridge Mall where the old JC Penney location is, as well as a performing arts pavilion on the north side of Southbridge Mall. The board could possibly make a final decision on the level of financing at next week’s meeting.

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