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Face-off over North End buildings set for Wednesday

This news story was published on April 28, 2015.
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MASON CITY – The Mason City council is set for a work session Wednesday to discuss what the city is calling “vacant or dilapidated commercial properties” along the North Federal corridor.

The city appears to be moving in advance (or possibly in conjunction) with a petition that has been circulating and spearheaded by local realtor Pam Hildebrand.

Leading up to Wednesday’s work session, the city has been chiding local landlord Russ Hardy for an extended period of time to clean up or fix some if his properties on North Federal. He had been given a deadline last year to repair commercial buildings at the 1300 block of North Federal Avenue. The city council gave Mr. Hardy a deadline of this past March to finish the work or face potential demolition. The deadline came and went, and no action was taken by the council. NIT is told that behind the scenes, Mr. Hardy made a new agreement with the city which required he meet certain other criteria at certain dates, and he has met all of the deadlines.

However, the city is again zeroing in on his properties and others on North Federal Avenue, as outlined in Pam Hildebrand’s petition.

Mason City’s Ozzie Ohl (the “One Man Think Tank”) described the petition this way: “Pam is really working hard with the North End Partnership to revitalize and improve the commercial business district between 9th Street and 15th Street on North Federal. She has a petition started to get the city to do everything in their power to make this happen. She has been going door to door on the north side.”

Ohl continued by saying “Hwy 65 North is a gateway entrance to our community. A few of those buildings are terrible eyesores, structurally unsound and quite possibly pose health risks too. Petitions are available to sign at Hildebrand Real Estate, Pro’s, LD’s, Butcher’s, Coffee Cat, Northwestern Steak House, Cook’s Cafe and the Past Time Garden.”

Petitioners claim to have several hundred signatures and are gathering more. This petition may be presented at Wednesday’s council work session.

The council appears to be zeroing in on five properties: 1011 North Federal; 1410 North Federal; 1425-1419 North Federal; 1450 and 1454 North Federal; and 1343 to 1333 North Federal Avenue.  In city documents, city staff appear to be looking for ways to force the property owners to fix up their properties.  Some of the owners can’t be reached; others are said to be too broke to do the repairs; others, like Russ Hardy, are working with the city, but apparently not fast enough.

More on this developing story to come.

1011 North Federal

1011 North Federal, owned by Elwood Zipse and Willeen Carney

1410 North Federal

1410 North Federal, owned by David N. True

1425-1419 North Federal

1425-1419 North Federal, owned by Russ Hardy

1450 and 1454 North Federal

1450 and 1454 North Federal, owned by Holt Enterprises


1343 to 1333 North Federal Avenue, owned by Russ Hardy

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21 Responses to Face-off over North End buildings set for Wednesday

  1. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    May 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

    The city has been “TALKING” about this for over 20 years. They have given Hardy many, many , many chances to clean up his act. Yet, they continue to “TALK” and nothing gets done. Whatever else Hardy is he is a shrewed business man and he knows this is nothing but “TALK” again.

  2. Avatar

    anon Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Again Give it to Hickey he’ll get it done. Not to code or any permits but it will be done with no interference from the city. Just like his garage.

  3. Avatar

    Watchdog Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    A fresh strip center on North Federal would work. Build it and they will come. Also a great place for the Ice Arena. Downtown don’t deserve any more re-development money from the taxpayers. We have done enough for downtown.

  4. Avatar

    Highlands Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    The next neighborhood detrearating fast is the highlands. House are change from occupant owned to rentals. Was a good area and is failing fast. Please develop a plan to help that area before it is to late. A great assets is up there. The golf courses yet that is a shame. I’m not even a golfer so I’m not trying to promote it for self gain.

  5. Avatar

    Proper Progress Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    The north end should be designated an Urban Revitalization Area. A new mall or strip center should be advocated and then that Ice Arena they want where Penny’s is at in the mall should be put in the North End in the newly designated North End Revitalization Area.

    Downtown has had their share of public money and the time has come to “share the tax wealth” with all the people and the North End is long overdue for re-development!

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      I believe the North End is designated an Urban Revitalization area:

    • Avatar

      North end is done Reply Report comment

      April 29, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      Then we would have two empty mall. Not a good idea. I’m all for spending tax money in other areas of town Start with extra law enforcement in those areas. Problems in the north end are not just on federal. Look at the condition of the cement plant land. Look really bad when coming into town.

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Russ Hardy also needs to be held accountable for his rentals. Some of them are just horrible. I wonder if any of them would pass an inspection.

  7. Polio Loco

    Polio Loco Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I would interview Pam…

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      April 29, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Pam called the NIT newsroom this morning and we had a very nice chat. Her intentions are good. She just wants to make Mason City a better place. I told her I am certain her petition is the reason that there is a work session scheduled for today to address the blight on the North End. The mayor and council can’t stand it when citizens take the lead on any issue; so they are attempting to show that they are already working on the North End and short-circuit her efforts. Fact of the matter is, the mayor and council have been in office for years and ignored the North End for the most part. Pam’s petition got to them. If more people did what Pam is trying to do, Mason City would be a better place. If you leave our community on auto-pilot under the “leadership” of Bookmeyer, Anderson, Tornquist, etc, you end up with what we have now… a lot left to be desired.

  8. Avatar

    Tim Latham Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Matt Pam has been the only one out going door to door collecting signatures. As many of us who have grow up in Mason City she would like to see this area cleaned up. Many of us have been working hard to get this accomplish for years. I think you would agree it’s time . She has over 400 signatures and more coming in each day. She has no alternative motives. She just wants to see something done. I for one want to thank her for her hard work on this issue

    • Matt Marquardt

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      April 28, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Thank you for commenting Tim, your work in the North End is well-documented over the years. I saw some people this weekend creating a garden of some kind on North Federal near 15th or 16th Street. I also thought it was a shame that the green corner at North Federal and 12th was turned into a car lot. The two blocks south of there on east side of street are some of the worst you will find. It will be interesting to see if anything actually gets done by city hall on this matter.

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Ah, nostalgia, I remember when Decker’s and the cement plants were going full bore and that section of Federal rivaled downtown in it’s vibrancy . It’s never going to be what is was then but it sure can be better than what it is now.

  10. Avatar

    Allen Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Why isn’t there money available for these property owners like there was for the dentist at 1st. NE and Federal.

    • Avatar

      LVS Reply Report comment

      April 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      @Allen-there was and they took it and didn’t do any work. The guy on the corner (Old Alley Kat) too about 30 K did some work and then sold the place to Hardy at a profit and that was the end of it.

    • Matt Marquardt

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      April 28, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Allen must be talking about Dr. Jay Lala and maybe even the others on welfare row at the 000 block of North Federal Avenue?

  11. Avatar

    Watching Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I live on North Federal in fact I can look out my front window at Zippys building and I have never herd of or have I ever seen a patiton and I own my home. It’s not hard for a realtor to check and then come ask us home owners to sign or what we think about all the junk property’s.

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      April 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Someone said today that the door-knocking campaign was weak to nonexistent with this petition… maybe they don’t have as many signatures as they claim…

      • Avatar

        LVS Reply Report comment

        April 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        @N.I.T.- My neighbor said they were coming around but they never came to our house. We have lived up here for 20 years and that area of Federal has just gotten worse every year.

        • Matt Marquardt

          Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          April 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm

          Someone asked me today… why now? Pam’s been a realtor for over 20 years… and now she’s all fed up with North Federal Avenue. Where was she 10 years ago, 5 years ago? This person asked me, what (who) is really behind this possible charade?

  12. Avatar

    Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I can tell you right now, if I owned property in downtown MC I would be expected to keep it looking nice. Why isn’t this required of everyone? In my opinion, our downtown is looking better all the time, but the deadbeats who own the trashy looking buildings should be fined for every day they don’t fix up or tear down these eyesores. It’s gone on long enough!