MASON CITY, Iowa - The coronavirus pandemic has driven the U.S. economy practically into the ground, and has put the brakes on countless events, projects and developments. So what about the River City Renaissance project?
Despite the pandemic, the project, aimed to transform Downtown Mason City, is still moving forward, says City Administrator Aaron Burnett.
"The River City Renaissance project is staying in its entirety. The whole project will be constructed."
Construction on the nearby "River" apartment/townhome complex is progressing, with completion expected to be around the end of the year. In addition, variance review, surveying and abstracting work for the other large component of the project, the hotel/convention center that will be located in part of what is now the south parking lot of Southbridge Mall, has already been completed, and is now in the financing stage. Ground is expected to be broken sometime in July.
"Even through COVID, we've been able to move forward with the financing portion. Gatehouse has done a great job of reaching out to both equity investors and also to lending institutions to work the project through. It was a huge delay that we experienced that this occurred at the same time as the hotel project, but we're excited about the progress that has been made. With the restrictions lifting, we'll be able to make more announcements fairly quick as we get the staff members that need to be down here to do the due diligence through whatever they need to at the local level so we can get that lending approved, get those investors on board, and move forward."
Even with the pandemic and delays, Burnett is proud of the work done so far during this time.
"There has been progress. It's not been progress that people want to see like turning shovels, but it is progress facilitating the project moving forward. We're down to one last piece, and once the financing is secured, all of those things will be able to move forward."
In addition, the Performing Arts Pavilion, which will be located at the north entrance of the mall, already has a bid out for it, though Burnett says work on that project will begin after work on the hotel has commenced, as well as the skywalk that will connect the hotel with Music Man Square.