Breakthrough Web Design - 641-201-1459 - Build Your Online Presence
News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the North Iowa Region
• Founded 2010

Mason City administrator says “path forward for” River City Renaissance “is becoming clear” and hotel developer could be selected soon


This news story was published on November 17, 2018.
Advertise on NIT Subscribe to NIT

MASON CITY – Good news was released today for fans of Mason City’s downtown “Renaissance” project, as City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the “path forward” for the game-changing project is “becoming clear.”

In remarks prepared in advance for next week’s city council meeting, to be held Tuesday night at the library, City Administrator Aaron Burnett takes an upbeat and optimistic tone in connection to the future of Mason City’s beleaguered downtown Renaissance project – a project that has been in the works for years as big bills have piled up. After alleged hotelier G8 Development was fired for a second time recently, the project has been in limbo as the city searches for an investor that can inject nearly $10 million of their own dollars into the project, most likely in the form of a hotel. This private investment into the Renaissance is required by the state’s economic development agency in order for the state to supposedly cash in on “millions” of dollars in state taxes collected in a very small area of the downtown over many years. Some say the City will never reap these millions; others – a handful of personalities who stand to benefit – have lied to taxpayers and voters and said a $10 million check from the state would be delivered.

The following are Mr. Burnett’s remarks, as released in city documents Friday:

City Administrator Aaron Burnett

The River City Renaissance has continued to progress with meetings with various partner organizations in the project, architect firms, developers, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The culmination of this work will be a special City Council meeting the Tuesday after Thanksgiving week where the council will be able to take action on selecting a developer for the Hotel and Conference Center. This meeting is needed to keep the process moving forward. Unfortunately, the item was not ready for consideration on this meeting. The path forward for the project is becoming clear and I look forward to the discussion at the upcoming meeting.

Sump pumps have been a topic of discussion with several citizens with the temperatures dropping below freezing. The combination of high groundwater levels and cold weather has produced large ice masses in several streets near sump pump discharge pipes. The City has implemented a program where it removes this flow from the street in chronic areas by installing a valve to divert the water to sanitary sewers instead of the street during the winter months when the system can easily take the increased flow. This program is expanding out with the increased issues this year and, while it doesn’t solve the issue of flow during the warm months, it will keep ice from accumulating in multiple locations.

On the cultural front, the Library recently started offering a new feature with the CreativeBug website on its web page which provides access to thousands of videos covering a multitude of arts and crafts. Additionally, the MacNider Art Museum completed its Artober event that is a great fundraiser and fun event for the community. The cemetery also completed its History Walk that provided great information on the history of the individuals that built the city.

Planning and Zoning held a meeting to discuss the North End Neighborhood Plan that was well attended and this document will help provide a roadmap to success in the area. Input was received from residents and the conversation produced several takeaways that will help guide city action with respect to the plan and area. It is the hope that champions can be identified in the area to provide grassroots support to the efforts and give the effort a face in the community.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of numerous city employees. Several departments have been short-handed through transitions and the staff has stepped up to cover these demands. The majority of our departments run very lean with staff and any empty positions create problems. Without the dedicated efforts of these employees, the departments’ services would suffer. This statement could reference numerous employees, but two that I have personally been able to watch are Brian Pauly and Chief Brinkley. Thanks for your dedication!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available

43 Responses to Mason City administrator says “path forward for” River City Renaissance “is becoming clear” and hotel developer could be selected soon

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 26, 2018 at 11:42 am

    ..so let me get this right, we went with a hotel builder that couldn’t find financing, then we went with a hotel builder that took our money and ran, then we went back to the original hotel builder that couldn’t find financing again, now we want to go back to the hotel builder that burned through our money gift, and needs some more. IS THAT ABOUT THE JESS? when no business minds sit on our council, the city suffers. This needs a re vote for sure.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 26, 2018 at 11:33 am

    so NO hotel funding? who cares, we want our arena-MC Hockey

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 21, 2018 at 8:52 am

    This reminds me of last night news – SEE the mayor or chitcago Ronnie Emanual a socialist democrat (obannas BUDDY) trying to make a sad face for the victims of the latest shooting in his town. Yet it took 4 days for the shooter to be identified and and now low and behold and behold its LOPEZ – of course how could this happen in his Sanctuary proclaimed chitt hole city – Not a gambler but 2-1 odds this fence jumper was illegal as hell. Nice going Ronnie Boy you scum bag.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 19, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Debt, debt, and more debt. Why do we have a government again? Oh yeah, they are supposed to be doing whats best for their constituents. This is whats best for a very very small group of people, who already have an arena to play in. Pushing others out, to bring in out of state leeches.

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 19, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Belly up to the bar boys – we have Christmas gifts for all involved at setting up this con ! By the way we democraps told you your taxes will have to be raised just as Pelosi the snake said.

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 19, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Looks a lot lither the guy Trump just renamed – Little Adam Schitt !

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Renaissance should be fought with Resistance ! But off course it would be like the so called vote counts by the party of destruction know as the corrupt Democrats. Man! How do they stay out of jail ? Sorry answer is Demoncrap Judges who are corrupt.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      Rich Republicrooks are the ones pushing this, it will put more of our tax money in their pockets. Not one Democrat.

  8. Avatar

    gravyball Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Is it true. Loni is moving to Boston. The Queen of the Yes campaign is abandoning her town. Her failure is complete.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Didn’t they just buy a big new house here?

  9. Avatar

    Former Resident Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 8:07 am

    My view from Texas is looking better all the time!

  10. Avatar

    Loser's Paridise@Mason City Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Still trying to put a square peg through round hole. This is yet another bridge to nowhere.

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 8:23 am

      No one can stop this project even if they wanted to. 9 N. Federal wants it and the state agency wants it. Game over.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm

        It will fail if they can’t get a investor. So far all they have found are crooks. That is because it is a born failure and real investors know it.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 4:38 pm

        ….ever wonder why the local financial institutions are running away from this renaissance mess? hummmmm

  11. Avatar

    Doctorcy80 Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 6:19 am

    Here is an portion of the City’s application to the state economic development board: ” The arena will be owned and constructed by Southbridge Mall. The mall will lease the arena to the City of Mason City for a period of 30 years with additional options to make it a 40 year lease term if desired. The City of Mason City will in turn sub-lease the arena to MCYHA (Mason City Youth Hockey Association) for the same period of time. MCYHA will then lease time to the other organizations (North Iowa Bulls, semi-professional hockey team, Figure Skating Club, High School Hockey Team, and youth hockey teams, they currently lease to. MCYHA will lease from the City 6 to 7 months depending upon whether the ice rink is needed for the semiprofessional team’s playoffs. The time that the arena is not leased to MCYHA the City of Mason City will manage the facility and schedule concerts, conventions, exhibits, and sports tournaments. The North Iowa Bulls regularly sell out their games in their current venue, and local hockey promoters are certain that the new, larger venue will draw even larger crowds.”

    • Avatar

      ‘Nonymus Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 8:17 am

      So now we’ll have taxpayer subsidized hockey!

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm

        Yep.. been screaming this from day one, and Hockey gets to name it and gets credit for items THEY NEED to run the ice for their organization, get deal for mcyh, everyone else, nothing. Concerts riders will not work in this venue without paying even more.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      A simple google search shows that city subsidized arenas like this do not, and have NEVER made a profit. Without an actual professional team, there is nothing but debt coming from this. These don’t work in higher population areas, why would it work here?

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 4:44 pm

        100% correct, but MCYH wants it, city hall wants it

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 2:30 am

    if this is such a great investment then why arnt the financial developers breaking down the city hall door to get a piece of it. Because they have seen the writing on the wall and have figured out that it would take 50 yrs to get back their initial investment yet alone make a profit. lets waste another million or two to final scrap it

  13. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    The city should be bulldozed down. Worst city in a great state.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 7:37 am

      Agreed. Ft Dodge, Ottumwa, Clinton all look like Beverly Hills compared to this town.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm

        LOL You’ve never been to Ottumwa, have you? Looks like a war zone.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          November 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm

          Been there lots of times, buddy. Mason City is unquestionably more derelict and run down than Ottumwa.

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Wrap it up. This is a pipe dream. It’s never going to happen. Idiot

  15. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    When are these fools going to learn?

  16. Avatar

    Ezekiel Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    What a joke.
    The STATE needs to pull the plug.

  17. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Hopefully the group which pitched the hotel water park and travel sports facility in Clear Lake can be persuaded to come to the bargaining table as part of the RCR project here in Mason City. I don’t know why the financials weren’t working for this project in Clear Lake, but the infusion of state dollars and TIF financing may make the project feasible here in Mason City.

    The hotel/water park and travel sports is really a great idea that is exponentially more creative than what is currently pitched in the RCR project – not to mention travel youth sports is BIG business right now.

    Given the condition of indoor shopping malls across the country, i think we have to realize our mall will never again exist again as a hub of retail. Its going to have to be a mix of entertainment, food, and specialty retail to have any chance of being successful going forward. Bulldoze the Younkers building, put up the hotel/water park in its place. Build a indoor sports facility tailored to traveling youth sports inside JC Penney space. Put in a brewery/cinema in the old cinema space. And create small retail/restaurant storefronts with the remainder.

    • Avatar

      Observer the Original Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 3:43 am

      I will not deny the Mall is in deep trouble, and needs a new direction. However, to place an emphasis on kids playing hockey, really would not spur that much economic growth. In fact, their local association has yet to put up dollar one in support of the project.

      Outside of a few weekends a year, and one week every four years, hotel occupancy rates in town are not all that spectacular. Now I suppose they will come to the public with glowing rates in the last year. But that is because of the large number of out of town contractors that have come to Mason City to complete major projects. But those numbers are not sustainable. Once those projects are completed, so go the contractors. That house of cards crumbles down without a significant draw of out of town visitors.

      The re purpose of the mall will have to depend on local and regional consumption to survive. And is the revenue to support investment sufficient in our area? We have already raised the white flag on retail in the middle part of the City. The anchors are gone, for good.

      So lets look at the demographics of Mason City to see where and what is available. Of course, one cannot deny that services for Senior City citizens has potential. Why Seniors? First off, they represent 39.6% of the population. While a large part of that has limited expendable income, they bring with them the need for healthcare and supporting services.

      But for the sake of comparison, let’s look at the other groups. Kids under the age of 18 comprise 23.6% of the population. College age people are 10.2%. That leaves ages 25 to 44 with 21.7%. School kids are not likely to have expendable income, but parents do need a lot of money to support school activities. But they already have investments focused on that age group (for those who can afford it).

      As far as those demographics, one has to consider one more variable, the percentage of those groups that can afford more than rent and utility payments. Look around, you will see that there are too many in town that can barely afford the basics ( I put that rate around ¼ of the working population). What rate that actually is, is not really published (but you can be sure that there are some who aim to keep them that way because it pads their pockets. I don’t have to name the names, we are all familiar with those that pawn off substandard housing for unreasonable prices).

      The powers that be would rather you ignore the reality of economics of Mason City, and instead focus on out-of-towners, to which there is very little draw outside of the small, specific interests (Frank Lloyd Wright for example). And yes, kids hockey (for what little revenue there is in it).

    • Avatar

      Observer the Original Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 3:44 am

      ” Put in a brewery/cinema in the old cinema space. And create small retail/restaurant storefronts with the remainder.”

      With the problem we have in Mason City with booze, do we really need more?

    • Avatar

      Observer the Original Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 3:51 am

      And City Hall is not by any means the leader in this, they are taking dictation from the un-elected person who’s office is on tax-free land on Federal. She holds the puppet strings.

    • Avatar

      ‘Nonymus Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Unfortunately, without the jobs to support this, it can’t succeed. The faux well-to-do in this town won’t let those jobs in for fear the competition will run them out of business. So let’s stick the taxpayer, that’s the favorite game in metro MC.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Only thing that will work was suggested by the guy that has the 80 business owners in his back pocket,and this group has elected it’s own people and agenda, he said make it like downtown Disney, with a food mall, representing numerous types of restaurants and lounges all themed and well lite up. FOOD SELLS HERE.

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Democracy has failed us yet again. You can’t expect change if you don’t vote these clowns away. Shickle is on his second round as mayor. He is not fit to work regular jobs like us slaves. He must be in charge even though he has no actual real life experience showing he has done anything positive while being in any sort of position of power. His wife is cut from the same cloth, both need to retire before one of the people they are screwing over decides they are done, and visits them at their nice house on east state street. Paid for by tax dollars 100% both are social vampires. They suck from their surroundings but truly give nothing back. Their motives are not noble by any means. Fake christians, and God will judge them based on their true motives. God sees all, remember that.

  19. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    good god guys give up on this stupid f**ken dream, You guys in city hall are the laughing stock of Iowa. But we keep electing you clowns so we must be getting poked and prodded also.

  20. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    So is Chodur suing us again?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Oh yes, and so will gatehouse once this next set of plans falls through. Sadly my wife and I are talking about selling our rentals and moving. We just can’t afford to keep paying these taxes with no actual benefits being shown. I moved here because of the cost of living. Now im moving away because of the same thing. When i can rent a two bedroom one bath apartment in scottsdale for $850 a month with two pools/spas full rec areas, a gym and volleyball courts ect. Yet would have to pay the same amount here for something much less appealing we have a problem. Instead of complaining and fighting the towns idiots, we will just go somewhere else. The fake wealthy pushed for this arena, yet won’t cough up anything to subsidize it themselves? Goodbye mason city, it was fun.

      • Avatar

        ‘Nonymus Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 8:20 am

        Well put. This whole boondoggle is to benefit the fake wealthy!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 17, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      No one of worth wanted anything to do with this development deal. Thats why we have these losers applying for the spot. This over weight gatehouse bafoon is just looking for his next meal ticket. Someone go see how he looks while not playing the business man. Id bet hes a step away from people of wal mart material.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 18, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        I tend to not trust fat businessmen. They have no self respect, and with a belly like that. How much can he really care about things he works on or with? He can’t control his eating, hows his word? Oh yes, google some of his other ventures. This guy is a loser.

  21. Avatar

    Enough Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    “Stop the Insanity!”

  22. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    How is this still going on? Why would you make the mistake of trusting another “developer” who has a bad track record just like mr chodur? Who is to be heald accountable for allowing this mess to continue? I know there was a vote, but enough is enough. We are pushing already established businesses out of business by bringing in more competition in an area that doesnt have the traffic to handle it. This is not a financially sound investment, and our city council knows it! You are supposed to be leading this town Mr shickle, where will you work once you are known for being the mayor who sold the city to out of state scum bags. Shame.