Hotel plan will be shown

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Note: Printed with Permission from The Globe-Gazette, article by John Skipper.
MASON CITY - Heartland Properties will give the city a specific proposal for the Park Inn renovation project at a special City Council meeting Tuesday.
The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in the second floor conference room at City Hall.
Heartland, a division of Alliant Energy, works on community projects in cities served by Alliant. Last year it proposed renovating the old Park Inn Hotel, the last remaining hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, at 15 W. State St. Later, the company said it also wanted to renovate the old City National Bank building as part of the project.
Dean Baumgartner of Heartland has said the city stands to reap millions of tourism dollars from Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts who will travel to Mason City to see the buildings. Heartland plans to put apartments in the upper floors of the buildings.
The Mason City Chamber of Commerce is in the old hotel building. Moorman Clothiers and McCoy Accounting are in the old bank building. Les Nelson, owner of the chamber building, agreed to sell it to the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy which in turn will sell it to Heartland.
One of the things that is up in the air is the city's financial commitment. City officials have committed to providing parking for the Park Inn project. Councilman Max Weaver has raised concerns that when the project was first proposed, the parking could have been accomplished with 10 parking places across the street. Now, he said at a recent council meeting, there is talk of eliminating downtown buildings to provide the parking.
The Mason City Downtown Association learned of the upcoming council meeting at its meeting Wednesday.
Businessman Tom Jolas said, "It's unusual to have a situation where all the stakeholders are willing to do whatever it takes. Often, you'll have someone planting their feet and saying, 'I'm not moving.' I don't see that happening here. Everyone seems to want to work together to see this through."
Community Development Director Tarek Moneir said the meeting is being held in the second floor conference room because that room is more appropriate for small-group discussion rather than the larger Mason City Room at the public library.
In other business Wednesday, Sharon Lindgren reported plans are well under way for a celebration Nov. 18 to open the holiday season. Santa Claus will greet children in the bus depot in Central Park and sleigh rides will be available in the downtown area. Activities will occur from 5 until 9 p.m., highlighted by the lighting of the Christmas tree in Central Park.
Mayor Bill Schickel told the group the city is applying for grants to provide lighting and a fence around the Civil War statue. Plans are also being made to dedicate the restored statue but no date has been set.

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