As a way to keep citizens apprised of the larger projects that it's up to, Mason City officials maintain a "Capital Improvements Program" for current and forthcoming fiscal years.

The program itself not only includes the relevant years for the specific project but also how much it will cost, what department it is for and what the justification is for it. 

In the myriad projects, there are several development proposals that the city is planning, projecting or forecasting.

Mason City Development Services Director Steven Van Steenhuyse provided the rationale for these projects and helped give a little backstory as well.

Corridor Revitalization Loan Program

Listed project cost: $750,000

Year range: 2018-2023

What it's about: Provides funding for forgivable loans to: redevelop dilapidated commercial buildings on North and South Federal Avenue, do streetscape improvements, repair driveways to businesses and demolish structures that are not salvageable. According to the city: The loan amount can be up to $30,000 and is matched dollar-for-dollar by the applicant. The applicant/owner is then responsible for maintaining the improvements during the entire loan forgiveness period -- 84 months (seven years).

Insight from Van Steenhuyse: Since 2015, the city has had about 39 applicants for its downtown revitalization programs. 

While part of the intent of this program is to enhance the aesthetics of buildings along the corridor, the program is also meant to help boost property values. Northside Liquor and Pro's Sandwich Shop are just two corridor businesses to take advantage of the loan and both have seen their property values steadily tick upward in the past decade (Northside from $177,360 in 2015 to $234,460 in 2019 and Pro's from $76,990 to $87,630).

Steenhuyse also argued that such a program is more beneficial to an interested small business owner than a tax rebate because it's more immediate. 

Downtown Development

Listed project cost: $1,000,000 (over four years listed)

Year range: 2018-2022

What it's about: The focus of this particular fund is on spurring private development and redevelopment investment into downtown Mason City. That could be property acquisition, building demolition, building rehabilitation or construction. 

Insight from Van Steenhuyse: More recent examples of this fund being used are the third floor of the building next to the Brick and Tile building being converted and facade improvements being made on 10 buildings in downtown Mason City (including Brick Furniture and the Quarry).

Industrial Site Development

Listed project cost: $2,350,000 (over five years listed)

Year range: 2018-2023

What it's about: Available project funding that can be used to option or purchase property, extend infrastructure (such as utilities) and do land preparation.

Insight from Van Steenhuyse: Although it's there to be used for infrastructure, it hasn't recently been used at all. The last prevalent thing it would've been used for was the Prestage deal (which ultimately failed).

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