MASON CITY — The citizens group that took on the Park Inn restoration project last year intends to purchase the old City National Bank building and renovate it.
The buildings, both designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, are side by side on State Street, across from Central Park.
Wright on the Park Inc., the citizens group, agreed to take on the Park Inn restoration project a year ago, carrying on for the the Mason City Foundation, which had been restoring the building.
Ann MacGregor, executive director of Wright on the Park Inc., acknowledged that purchasing the old bank building doubles the workload and the fund-raising responsibilities.
But it has been the organization’s intent all along.
“When we crafted our mission statement a year ago, we said we wanted to restore, maintain and preserve the Frank Lloyd Wright properties — plural,” she said.
It would not be right to fix up one and not the other, said MacGregor.
“It would be such a disservice to that architectural piece of property if we didn’t take it on. We would be criticized around the world,” she said.
Board member Jean Marinos agreed. “We knew we had to do something,” said the former Mason City mayor.
The old bank building now houses Moorman Clothiers on the ground floor and the offices of accountant Mike McCoy on an upper level.
MacGregor said Wright on the Park has an option to purchase the bank building, now owned by Sara Building Partnership. The agreement is good through 2006 and can be renewed every year, she said. She declined to discuss cost of the building.
“We’re working to put together financing and hoping to execute the option this year,” she said. “It depends on grants.”
She said work on the Park Inn has been “dormant,” partially because of winter weather and also because Wright on the Park could not take over formal ownership until all grant money acquired by previous owners was used.
“We’ve been working with two hoteliers for schematics on the Park Inn. It looks to them like we get 22 rooms. We can get six more rooms on the third floor of the bank building, which is something we’d want to do. That represents revenue,” said MacGregor.
Wright on the Park Inc. now has office space on the second floor of the old bank building — a big change, said MacGregor, from working at a card table in her kitchen.
The organization has a phone number, (641) 423-0689, an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and is planning its first annual meeting, to be held May 3 in the Mason City Room at the library.
The Mason City Foundation owned the Park Inn property and had a five-year purchase agreement with the city to renovate it.
At the end of the five years, the project was not complete and the Foundation chose not to continue with it.
Ownership reverted back to the City Council which advertised the site on eBay and asked for any interested citizens to step forward.
The group now known as Wright on the Park Inc. answered the call.