Silly me.

I’ve got the date on my calendar circled. July 23.

That’s the date the City Council will hold a public hearing on the development agreement between Gatehouse Mason City LLC and the city of Mason City on the hotel/conference center that is the kingpin of the River City Renaissance Project.

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If things go according to what usually takes place, the council will then formally approve the agreement and it will be a giant step toward the renaissance that has been talked about for almost six years.

The key phrase here is “what usually takes place” because almost nothing about this project has been what usually takes place.

And there is still a “what if” nightmare scenario that could take place.

No need to go into elaborate detail on the history of this project. Well, maybe just a little.

Philip Chodur of G8 Development of San Diego first approached the council on Oct. 1, 2013, with the idea of building a hotel in the parking lot adjacent to the west side of City Hall. The council gave him the exclusive rights to try to develop the property. Chodur approached the Hilton hotel people about giving him the franchise. Hilton turned him down.

Chodur came back to the council a few months later with a new proposal, this time to build a Marriott hotel on the same site. A development agreement was reached, but when Chodur repeatedly failed to meet deadlines to start construction, the city severed ties with G8 and sought new bidders for the project. Two companies responded, Gatehouse Capital of Dallas – and G8.

Not surprisingly given the recent past history, the council chose Gatehouse. G8 filed suit against the city for breach of contract from its previous dealings. The site for the proposed hotel had been moved to the south parking lot of Southbridge Mall.

The city negotiated back and forth with Gatehouse. In the meantime, voters approved two ballot issues to move the project forward with the knowledge that Gatehouse was the developer.

But there had been so many changes in the proposed project that the city was obligated by state law to provide a 30-day period for any other developer to come up with a competitive bid. And guess what. G8 did. And, not surprisingly, G8 said it would drop its lawsuit against the city if the city awarded the contract to G8.

A “bid off” was held in which Gatehouse and G8 were invited to submit bids on each individual piece of the project. Gatehouse had already submitted what it called its final bid to the city – so to change anything in the “bid off” would have been dishonest on their part, so they didn’t.

So G8, knowing what Gatehouse’s figures were, was able to come in with a lower bid than Gatehouse and won approval for the project. Many voters who had approved the two ballot issues when Gatehouse was the presumed developer accused the council of a “bait and switch” tactic.

Earlier this year, when the city claimed that G8 once again was not living up to its end of the bargain, it dropped them from the project and renewed its relationship with Gatehouse.

Like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of our lives.

So Gatehouse is in, G8 is out and G8 once again is suing the city.

As mentioned earlier, the public hearing on the Renaissance project is set for July 23.

Oh, there’s just one other thing. As was the case earlier, any developer that wants to offer a competitive bid to Gatehouse’s final proposal may do so between now and the date of the hearing.

Remember, I mentioned a possible nightmare scenario?

Silly me.

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John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.


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