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MASON CITY, Iowa- The $38 million proposal to bring a hotel, conference center, multipurpose arena, conference center, skywalk and museum took a dramatic turn at a November 27th special Mason City City Council meeting when the council voted to move forward with G8 Development as the developer of the project.
KIMT News 3 filed a Freedom of information request to try and get a better understanding of when the city started discussion with G8.
We received six emails dating back to November 15th 2017. The short email from Mayor Eric Bookmeyer to Henkel Construction President said: “Gary, let us know if we can assist further, Eric.” This email was sent a little over a week after the citizens of Mason City were asked to head to the polls to vote on the two public measures related to the project.
Another email was dated December 5th from Mayor Bookmeyer. The email reads:
“Steven’s second paragraph is spot on. There was a significant difference in the manner in which the two developers moved forward with the City behind the scenes.
G8 was solution oriented and proactive. Gatehouse produced procedural and financial red flags throughout the process, as are clearly demonstrated in the discussion below. None of this went unnoticed by Mr. Trout, staff or myself… we simply were forced to prioritize to move the project forward (a red flag, as well). There was going to be a significant amount of work required, more so than the initial proposal by G8, to scratch dirt if the City would have moved forward with Gatehouse.
Along with the security considerations and financial analysis of the two projects, this conflict is a clear example as to why G8’s proposal and team were clearly in the best interest of the public of Mason City.
I have confidence that City staff, in conjunction with G8’s team, will resolve these issues. The parking is available, the parties involved simply need to resolve the question to the benefit of all entities.
I appreciate everyone’s work on this. The City of Mason City will be better for your commitment.
This email was sent around a week after the Mason City City Council voted to move forward with G8 Development as the lead developer on the project.
We also spoke to the Iowa Economic Development Board about the timeline of when the city could have received the state funding for the project to which they stated that the board was willing to visit with city leaders and elected officials on the project at their November board meeting. They said those with the city asked to delay the process.
We reached out to city staff who say the reason the held off on presenting the project at the November meeting was because the “competitive bid” process was underway and as these emails show, the city did have potential to receive another bid. Those with the city say if they would have been awarded the state funds and then decided to go with another developer they city would then have to present the project again to be awarded the funds.
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