Park Inn presents building challenges

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Note: Printed with Permission from The Globe-Gazette, article by John Skipper.
MASON CITY - Heartland Properties intends to recreate the lobby and the dining room of the old Park Inn Hotel and do extensive repair work on the second floor in what a spokesman said Wednesday was "an extraordinary challenge" as a restoration project.
Dean Baumgardner of Heartland told a "Good Morning, Mason City" gathering that the renovated Frank Lloyd Wright hotel will have a significant economic impact on Mason City because of the tourism it will create.
It is the last remaining hotel designed by the famed architect. The Mason City Chamber of Commerce has its offices in the building which is at 15 W. State Street.
"Mason City is poised for progress," said Baumgardner, "The Park Inn is an untapped resource and will be a treasure for Mason City, the state and the nation."
But it won't happen without a lot of work, he said. The lobby of the hotel was where the front desk of the Chamber is today. The dining area is in the area where the Chamber has its conference room. Baumgardner said Chamber officials have been extremely cooperative during discussion about renovations involving their offices.
The more difficult take will be restoring the upstairs. Baumgardner said the original banister and several original doors from the hotel are still there. Also, he said, workmen found a stained-glass window that has been covered over for many years.
"There are holes in the walls and ceiling and there is extensive water damage from leaking that will need to be repaired. The entire roof may need to be replaced," he said.
The only help Heartland will seek from the city is in providing parking. Talks are under way to create parking in an alley area just west of the building, said Baumgardner.
Heartland is a division of Alliant Energy and specializes in housing. "We reinvest in communities served by Alliant. Our plan is to convert the upstairs of the building into apartments," he said.
Mason City developer Les Nelson owned the building but agreed to sell it to the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy, which in turn agreed to sell it to Heartland.

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