For years, the space at 4173 S. Federal Ave., on the far southern end of Mason City, effectively sat vacant.
When a fire ravaged the former Rose Bowl site on Jan. 22, 2014, it shuttered an immensely popular entertainment spot that had served as an unofficial welcome into town since the 1960s. Though the address is no longer the site of bowling, booze and karaoke, there is life in it once more with a new occupant.
Barnhart Branch Manager Dan Ford said that the crane service and hauling company moved in back in May, though they are still adding employees and equipment to the mix. According to Ford, the branch did look at other spots in Mason City to transfer to from Clear Lake but were sold on the old Rose Bowl grounds by local developer Jeff Tierney.
"This has been a really neat project for the south end of Mason City because it did sit vacant for so long. Jeff recognized that and wanted to put something on the southside of town," said Ford, who spent time at the Rose Bowl in his younger days. He added that because of the location there's already been plenty of attention and a lot of traffic to come through.
Mason City Director of Development Services Steven Van Steenhuyse said that any time a long-vacant building sitting near an entryway to town can be filled, it's a win for the city.
"The Rose Bowl is at the entrance to the city, it’s one of the first things people see when they come in from the Avenue of the Saints, so having it look active again is a positive for the city," he said.
Van Steenhuyse noted that a vacant building can have a negative impact on a surrounding area whereas one that is up and operational makes the whole area look more vital.
He then pointed out that the Rose Bowl isn't the only prominent spot on the south way into town that's seen action in recent months.
"Southport is on the edge of town and people see that but we want to get things going there and we’re going to start seeing things happen there," Van Steenhuyse said.
Back in June, the Mason City Council heard plans to convert the 55,000 square feet into climate controlled indoor storage by a group from Rochester, Minnesota, known as Midwest Indoor Storage. Now, Van Steenhuyse said that the development plan has been approved and the owners may well develop the area in front that's just parking lot now.
"So that would be a positive," Van Steenhuyse said.
As for the parking lot at Barnhart, there's still some landscaping that Ford said will happen in the coming months and there's a handyman darting to and fro to perform various tasks. But for all intents and purposes, the Rose Bowl is gone now.
There's no immediate signs of where the lanes were or where the kitchen was set up. Ford's office is close to where a fireplace was but, again, that's not readily apparent. It's vastly different than what it once was but there's activity at 4173 S. Federal Ave. again.
Tierney Downtown LLC owns the property where the Globe Gazette is currently located.
Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.
The business news you need
Get the latest local business news delivered FREE to your inbox weekly.