MASON CITY, Iowa — Officials of a city in northern Iowa have approved plans to build a hotel and renovate another building for a conference center as part of a $36 million development considered to be a key for downtown renovation efforts.

The Mason City Council unanimously voted to approve the Gatehouse Capital pre-development agreement to build a hotel and connect it to The Music Man Square on Thursday, The Globe Gazette ( ) reported.

The proposal includes building the hotel in Southbridge Mall’s south parking lot and connecting it to The Music Man Square with a skywalk. Gatehouse intends to build a ballroom and conference center in The Music Man Square and relocate the museum.

The state requires $10 million in private investment for the hotel. Gatehouse’s $15 million project with the hotel fulfills that requirement.

Resident Max Weaver said that the city is investing millions to fix the downtown, which he says was great before the mall was built.

“I’m not a naysayer here,” said Max Weaver of Mason City. “I want exactly what you want, everything. There’s just a better way to do it.”

Councilman Travis Hickey said the plan is already in place, and the city will lose the potential to earn $10 million in state funds through the Iowa Reinvestment Act if they don’t move forward with it.

Crystal Shellhart of the Holiday Inn Express and Visit Mason City spoke in favor of the project. She said hotels in the city fill up for events such as Band Fest and that visitors are often sent to hotels in other towns.

“Putting in an additional 100 rooms doesn’t threaten the other hotels,” Shellhart said. “Voting this down could be detrimental.”

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