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Q&A 1

Gatehouse representative Dave Rachie speaks during a March 2019 Q&A session on the planned Music Man Complex & Hotel project at Music Man Square.

More than a month ago, Mason City officials were unable to peg a specific time when they'd be able to finalize a deal with Gatehouse Capital to build a hotel as a part of the ongoing River City Renaissance Project.

A month later, that still holds true.

The Mason City Council is considering a spate of River City Renaissance items on Tuesday night and a finalization for the Gatehouse hotel deal is nowhere to be found.

Mason City Administrator Aaron Burnett said that it is important to move the agreement forward as quickly as possible to allow for this work to be completed. 

"However, it is always important to balance speed with quality.  I believe that is the case with this agreement," Burnett said.

While there isn't a set-in-stone date for finalizing the deal, city officials are continuing to desire getting in the ground before winter. But that becomes more difficult with each week that passes without any tangible action. And if enough time goes by it could be spring 2020 before major construction is underway, which Burnett has said previously. 

Although the city hasn't inked a deal with Gatehouse yet, it did recently clear a hurdle with the state's Economic Development Authority Board. 

Previously, the city had to provide weekly updates to IEDA staff until construction started on the downtown hotel project and submit a document to the IEDA by Sept. 17, 2018, that G8, the developer at the time, had either secured construction financing for the project or that it was in default on one or more of its provisions. 

With G8 being dropped from the project for allegedly defaulting (a lawsuit against the city is currently underway) and a final deal with new developer Gatehouse still not inked, Mason City officials were able to set a new deadline for the construction financing commitment of Sept. 30, 2019.

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Over time, Gatehouse has changed crucial elements of the planned Music Man Complex & Hotel in the face of rising costs.

According to Gatehouse representative David Rachie: Bonds approved by the city in 2017 don't account for inflation so developers have less money to work on the project, once pegged at $15 million. To adjust, Rachie said Gatehouse decided to put its planned hotel on top of the proposed conference center to save money.

Burnett said that that extra time could be a financial benefit for the city.

"We are creating a strong framework that will be attractive to investors and bankers to ensure that we are able to make it through the rigors of financing to construction on the project."

And even though there have been delays, Burnett still thinks that the city is close to the finish line.

"I still believe that some construction work can occur before this winter."

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