MASON CITY — City Council members agreed Tuesday night to grant developer Phil Chodur a three-month extension on the start of construction for his Marriott hotel project downtown.
But they indicated their patience was wearing a little thin.
Chodur, head of G8 Development, San Diego, was to start construction this month on a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in the parking lot west of City Hall.
He initially asked for a six-month extension, saying he had redesigned the hotel to add an extra floor of rooms, thinking the Prestage pork processing plant was going to be approved. When the City Council turned down the Prestage project, he said it necessitated changing the design plans again. That is why he asked for more time.
City officials turned him down on the sixth-month extension but agreed to three additional months.
“It’s time to get this moving forward,” said Councilman Travis Hickey. “If this doesn’t happen, the project is pretty much dead,” he said, referring to the downtown renovation plan that also includes an ice arena/multipurpose center, music pavilion, parking ramp and mixed-use building.
The hotel is the key element because it represents a $10 million private investment, a requirement for $10 million in state funds the city is seeking.
Hickey said he would go along with the extension for now. “Three months. After that, I don’t know,” he said.
City Administrator Brent Trout said, “I agree. It’s time.”
Councilman Brett Schoneman said, “We need to push this to get this done.”
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Then, as if to emphasize the council's message to Chodur, he said, "We tape these meetings."
The council voted unanimously to grant the three-month extension and to grant a four-month extension on the construction start of the mixed-use building because of a real estate transaction in the works that is connected to the project.
Hickey expressed concern that more council members were not involved in the discussions with Chodur, saying the dealings were primarily with Trout, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and Councilman Alex Kuhn.
He said Kuhn might have conflict of interest issues since he is employed by Henkel Construction, a company that might profit from the building projects.
Kuhn, who was not at the meeting but participated by telephone, did not respond to Hickey.
Schoneman said he understood why all council members were not participants in the discussions. "To involve the entire council, the entire community, would be a nightmare," he said.
The city has been pre-approved for $7.2 million from the Iowa Reinvestment Act and is seeking a total of $10 million for the downtown project which will leverage a little over $36 million for all five projects.
Two contingencies are the $10 million in private investment and the sale of Southbridge Mall.
Trout said the city met deadlines for its pre-application and final application for the state funding, and that the state has not given any deadlines for either contingency.