MASON CITY | The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to fix a date for a public hearing to consider the $14 million downtown apartment proposal from Talon Development and open a competitive bidding process.
The proposed project was trumpeted by Mayor Bill Schickel on social media on Monday morning and would be a four-story building along Mason City's downtown riverfront that would include 133 units.
The original plan was for 113 units for a $10 million price tag but Talon CEO Steve Boote said they were able to find room for 20 more townhome units with two-car garages.
A crucial aspect to the project that's been emphasized by Boote is the workforce pricing.
According to Boote, who started the company 21 years ago and runs it with family, an efficiency apartment in the Mason City complex would run $540.
A one-bedroom apartment with a patio would cost $745, a two-bedroom would be $890 and a three-bedroom would cost about $1,000.
Town home units would run $1,300 for a two-bedroom and $1,400 for a three-bedroom.
At the city council meeting, Boote said he chose to do business in a city such as Mason City in part because it reminds him of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the company is headquartered.
"I couldn't be more excited to be here," Boote said. "This is as excited as I've been about any project in my career."
Besides the similarities between Mason City and Sioux Falls, another driver of Boote's excitement was the prospect of lowering rents across town which he said Talon was "here to do."
Boote went on to emphasize how crucial such a housing project was for a place such as Mason City.
"You guys have a huge need, more than any of the other markets I've been in," he said.
North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Chad Schreck echoed that particular sentiment from Boote.
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"A common thing we hear when recruiting businesses is: I just can't make the move," Schreck said.
Schreck said it was a necessity to make "downtown a destination point" and an "exciting place to live."
"Let's get something redeveloped and repurposed," he said.
Both Schreck and Boote were apt to point out some of the potential economic impact as well.
Boote said that he and Talon would "strive to hit an 80 percent mark" for local hiring if the job went through.
Talon is currently working on a student housing project called The Heights in Vermillion, South Dakota, which Boote claimed had about 60 to 70 workers.
If the city council decided to go with Talon, the developer would break ground in 60 to 90 days and attempt to complete construction in 11 months.
Boote attempted to allay sewer concerns by assuring that the project "wouldn't affect the mainline sewer" in the downtown area.
And he also expressed openness to tailoring the look of the apartment complex to Mason City's architecture.
"In a way, we're already piling on the snowball you started," he said.