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River City Renaissance group claims progress is being made toward positive outcome for project

Proposed hotel, skywalk, convention center and museum in downtown Mason City.

MASON CITY – The River City Renaissance group claims progress is being made toward a positive outcome for the downtown project that Mason City is anticipating.

The following letter was posted to social media on May 1, and is dated April 27. It was sent from the River City Renaissance group to officials with the Iowa Department of Economic Development:

To keep the community in the loop with what’s going on with the RCRP, we will be posting the weekly updates sent from the City of Mason City to the IEDA here on our facebook page.

A great deal of progress was made this week. The President of G8 Development, Philip Chodur, has executed a contract with WHKS Engineering to complete the concept plan required by the City. Since WHKS had been working towards this plan for several weeks, they already had the bulk of the information they need to complete the plan. Thus, now that contract is signed, completion of the plan will not take long.

City staff met with WHKS’s project engineer to review preliminary aspects of the plan for the Downtown Hotel on Monday and went over the final details needed to submit a concept plan for the City’s development review process. The engineer has assured us that the concept plan will be provided to me on Monday, April 30. We have already placed consideration of the concept plan on the Development Review Committee’s agenda for Tuesday, May 1. This approval will provide the developer with a more complete plan to share with the lenders with whom he is working.
Regarding the contingencies:

1. By May 18, 2018, submit to IEDA documentation that acceptable construction financing has been secured for the Downtown Hotel. Events of the past week have given us additional confidence that securing financing will occur by 5/18. City staff has had ongoing discussions with a local bank about participating in the Downtown Hotel project. The developer has been in contact with this bank and has provided them with detailed information about the financing package. The developer also has also cultivated relationships with other lenders, who are awaiting proof of the City’s approval of a site plan. As noted above, this should occur early next week. We are also assured that all of the lenders working with the developer have a strong relationship with the USDA, and that the USDA office in Des Moines has indicated their willingness to consider a guarantee to one of these potential lenders.

2. By May 18, 2018, submit to IEDA a copy of the fully executed Purchase, Sale and Development Agreement between the Mason City Foundation and City of Mason City for the development of the Music Man Square Conference Center and Meredith Willson Museum. The City and the Mason City Foundation have agreed in principle on an Amended and Restated Development Agreement, which will replace the earlier Purchase, Sale and Development Agreement that had been executed last fall. The attorneys for both sides are completing the final draft of the Agreement. The City Council will consider a resolution at their May 1 meeting to set a public hearing on this Agreement for May 15. We will provide a fully-executed document to IEDA staff immediately after the public hearing. Barring anything unforeseen, this contingency will be met.

3. By December 31, 2018, submit to IEDA a copy of the fully executed performance and payment bond for the Downtown Hotel and documentation that financing for the hotel project has closed. With our expectation that financing will be secured by 5/18, we are confident that this contingency will be met by the specified deadline.

4. By December 31, 2018, submit to IEDA documentation that construction of the South Delaware Avenue Skyway has started. The City’s consulting engineer (who is also WHKS) has confirmed the means of connecting the west end of the skyway to the Downtown Hotel. As noted previously, they have already determined how the skyway will be connected on the east end to the Music Man Square. WHKS has met with the District 2 office of the Iowa DOT, who has approved the skyway concept. The next step is review and approval by the IDOT Office of Bridges and Structures. WHKS has submitted preliminary plans to that office and will work with them to secure necessary permits.

5. By December 31, 2018, submit documentation that construction financing has closed, and lease agreements have been executed for the Sports/ Entertainment/Retail Complex. As you may be aware, the Bon-Ton Companies have been ordered to liquidate their stores by the bankruptcy court. Thus, the Younker’s store in Southbridge Mall is closing. The Mall owner has several malls with Bon-Ton stores in his portfolio. We have been attempting to contact him about the Arena and Performing Arts Pavilion projects, but to no avail at this point. We will keep trying, in spite of the Bon-Ton situation. In any case, we do not believe that the Younker’s closing will affect this project. The Mall owner has expressed to us his excitement about a re-purposing of this mall, and the availability of the Younker’s space opens additional opportunities for re-purposing. We believe that Younker’s closing creates an even greater urgency for the Arena and Performing Arts Pavilion projects, as these are needed for the viability of a re-purposed Southbridge. Our attorneys are working on the required lease and other documents, and we are confident that we will meet the 12/31 deadline.

Mr. Chodur is expected to be in Mason City next week and we also expect to have continued conversations with potential lenders. The concept plan should be approved by Tuesday; once we have that ready, we will provide a copy to the IEDA staff. We remain confident that our project will move forward, and we are very excited about the possibilities. Please contact me if you have questions. Thank you.

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