Vote Yes 1

Organizer of the "Mason City Says Yes" group Loni Dirksen, left, and Matthew Chizek, President of CENT Credit Union, celebrate as both the River City Renaissance project ballot items passed on Nov. 7.

MASON CITY | Mayor Eric Bookmeyer said Wednesday the "silent majority" worked its will Tuesday in approving two public measures related to the River City Renaissance downtown project.

The next step is for the City Council to give final approval to a development agreement with Gatehouse Capital for a downtown hotel. 

The city has applied — and been pre-approved — for up to $10 million from the state through the Iowa Reinvestment Act to leverage a near $39 million project that includes the hotel, a performing arts pavilion and an ice arena/multipurpose center. 

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the development agreement on Tuesday, Nov. 21. With council approval in hand, city representatives will then go to Des Moines to seek final approval from the state on the Reinvestment Act funds.

On Tuesday, voters approved a lease agreement with Southbridge Mall for the proposed ice arena; and to issue up to $14 million in bonds for costs related to the hotel. The votes were crucial because if either of them had failed, the Renaissance project would have been defunct. 

"I am extremely proud of the citizens of Mason City," Mayor Eric Bookmeyer said Wednesday. The 'Yes' campaign, Mason City Youth Hockey, the Mason City Foundation, the Mason City Municipal Band, council members and our staff all worked in support of this.

"It's fun when the silent majority shows up — because they never left," he said.

Praise also came from several hundred miles away. Brent Trout, city manager of Topeka, Kansas, was city administrator in Mason City for 10 years before moving to Topeka last month.

He worked on the Renaissance project for years, even up to his last day as Mason City administrator on Oct. 20.

He said Wednesday he watched for the Mason City election results online Tuesday night. "I am very pleased for Mason City with the outcome," he said. "I am excited for Mason City to take the next steps to get the project done."

Chad Schreck, president of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp., said the 75 percent approval on the two public measures was important.

"It is a great statement that we are unified behind the project," Schreck said. "People in Mason City are proud of what we have and clearly bullish about what our future can be. We'll need to continue working together to make this a success."

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