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Mason City council tonight considers Southbridge redevelopment agreement

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City tonight holds a public hearing and will consider a proposed development agreement between the city and the development group that plans to transform Southbridge Mall from a mainly retail facility to one geared toward family entertainment.

OZ Hotels and Resorts, headed by David Rachie, who is also spearheading the Hyatt Place Hotel that will be constructed in the eastern part of the mall parking lot that is part of the River City Renaissance Project, announced last month that the investment group was purchasing the mall and repurposing it with new retail stores, several restaurants, bars and recreational businesses.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says one of the key things in the agreement would be the redevelopment of both the interior and exterior of the mall. Burnett says the city would provide a ten-year abatement of the incremental taxes generated by the redeveloped mall with the total cost of the tax rebate not exceeding $12-and-three-quarters million.  “The development agreement is a tax rebate structure using tax increment financing to provide the incentive for the development of the mall. It also carries a minimum assessment agreement that the mall will carry a valuation of no less than $30 million. It can be higher than that, but it can be no less than $30 million, which provides essentially a safety net for the city that the valuation will stay high.”

Burnett says one of the other key things that would be required under the development agreement is the replacement of the mall roof which has been badly needed for years.  “They will make those improvements to essentially stabilize the roof. There’s currently active leaks in several parts of the mall, and so stabilize that roof, get the repairs in place. The plan is actually to completely rip off the roof and put new roofing on. They will take short-term steps of protecting those leased areas, which is included in the development agreement, but then also the substantial improvements to both the façade of the building and the interior, and the structural pieces like the roof, making sure those are solid.”

The council meets tonight in a virtual format starting at 7 o’clock. You can watch the meeting and find ways to participate in the public hearing by heading to masoncity.net.

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