Some of us are old enough to remember when families enjoyed time together playing board games like “Clue” and “Monopoly.”
Those games had their own catch phrases – “Col. Mustard did it with a knife in the drawing room” or “Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”
Board games have given way to digital-this and digital-that but one thing I remember about Monopoly is that the more hotels you had, the better off you’d be.
This is a real sneaky way of getting into a question worth considering: In the real world, can it be said that the more hotels you have, the better off you’ll be?
Mason City and Clear Lake may find out in the near future. Each community is envisioning a new hotel and conference center in addition to what they already have.
Clear Lake’s is just in the talking stage right now, but the city has a pretty good track record of turning talk into action. An unnamed developer is proposing to build a $16 million hotel, restaurant and conference center on the old Andrews Prestressed Concrete site. The conference center would be used for conferences, not concerts, according to City Administrator Scott Flory.
Mason City’s project is further along, but let’s face it. It’s had a six-year head start. Yet my Reppicks Independent Poll of 20 coffee drinkers indicates 60 percent of those polled think Clear Lake’s will be built sooner than Mason City’s.
And now there’s news of a third hotel development. Mason City Mayor Bill Schickel announced last week that the old, long abandoned American Best Inn & Suites has been purchased and will be renovated into an EconoLodge. Some of us remember that the hotel was once called the Travel Lodge, a popular overnight stop for truck drivers.
When momentum was building and funds were being secured to restore the old Park Inn Hotel years ago, there was concern among some in the community as to whether it could function as a financially stable hotel. City officials correctly envisioned it as a tourist attraction that would bring many more people to Mason City than the 28-room hotel could hold, thereby benefiting all other hotels in the area.
Then when Philip Chodur of G8 Development of San Diego first proposed to build a new hotel next to City Hall downtown, some other area hoteliers worried it would affect their occupancy rates. Chodur was unable to meet development deadlines and has since been dropped from consideration in favor of Gatehouse Mason City LLC.
As to whether all of these hotel projects, in competition with one another, can succeed, depends almost entirely on the market for their product. Presumably, each of their parent companies has done sufficient market research to know that competition exists and that they are ready to face it. Often the beneficiary of competition is the consumer.
The North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp. has members from both cities and their goal is to work together for regional development. We trust that is happening.
So, it isn’t Monopoly with Boardwalk and Park Place and Marvin Gardens and railroads and utilities. It’s economic development in North Iowa and I say, let the games begin.