MASON CITY, Iowa- With a nearly full Mason City Room for the public hearing of the development agreement between Gatehouse Capital and the city of Mason City, city leaders announced they had a competitive bid to head the project from another developer causing a mix of emotions.
“My interest in the entire thing is to make sure that we bring the best project forward for the community,” says Steve Noto, the President of HPI Partners. “I’m behind the entire project, but I don’t like the risk level.”
“The citizens were voting on the whole proposal, which included Gatehouse, they weren’t voting on an anonymous developer,” said another resident. “They knew who was going to be in charge and that’s why they voted.”
But per state law, a bid-off needs to happen between the two developers to see who can come up with the better proposal for the project for Mason City.
“It would almost seem like our hands are tied,” says Tim Brown, of Mason City. “Unless we can determine that the current project is what is in the city’s best interest and the new proposal is not.”
The bid-off, which will be held Monday, will consist of a three-hour process where each developer has the opportunity to alter their proposals. That's something elected officials say isn’t a bad deal for the city.
“The competitive bid process is the right process, and I think the people that step forward to put it in place, I think this is what’s going to secure the best interests of the residents of Mason City,” said Mason City councilman Travis Hickey.
How it got to this point is because Gatehouse Capital was not able to fulfill Mason City's request when it came to the development agreement. The city voted to make changes to the requirements but had to open the competitive bidding process to other developers. G-8 took advantage and submitted a very similar project involving entities that are involved, including the Mason City Foundation.
Those attending the meeting seem eager to get the project done but want to do it right.
“The possibility of a bid-off and saving money on a huge project is very exciting,” says Joann Hardy, of Mason City. “I think it’s your responsibility to get the best deal you can for the city and the citizens of Mason City.”
“The people of Mason City made a decision to go with Gatehouse,” says Dan Latham, of Mason City. “Someone who has not built a hotel is not a competitive bid and I beg of you to, for the first time, maybe, we have a chance to have “A” players here to develop our city. Don’t mess it up.”
The city council will hold a special session Monday following the bid-off to vote on which proposal they will be moving forward with.
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