Photo of Willow Creek Crossing shopping center from Visit Mason City website

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City this week set the public hearing date for their first meeting in June on a private development agreement that would see three new stores come to the Willow Creek Crossing shopping center on the city’s west side.

The owner of the center, West Lakes P & S LLC, has negotiated leases for three of the vacant spaces in the center. Old Navy has submitted a building permit for 12,500 square feet to open an apparel store in a portion of the former Best Buy space. Five Below, a retail chain that specializes in sales of items costing $5 or less, would occupy 10,622 square feet in the former MC Sports space. The third space is 22,000 square feet that originally was planned for Marshall’s, with the owners saying they are negotiating a lease with Ross Dress for Less, a discount apparel store.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says he’s glad to see the center’s owners bringing in retailers with a strong national reputation.  “As you can see by comments on Facebook and out in the public, there’s a lot of excitement about this announcement. I think that just goes to show that people from several miles away from Mason City will come and shop there, producing a great sales tax benefit for the city, providing great amenities and retail options for people who live here locally, filling spaces that are sitting vacant and not producing a benefit.”

Burnett says retailers a lot of times when they look at placing stores, they look at who else is located in a community and how they are doing.  “They like to co-locate. You’ll see certain types of shops that cluster around a Target or Menards or some of these other national retailers. I think by bringing in these chains, there’s a chance of even more recruitment that is successful, because if those brands are doing well here, I think other brands will see the benefit of locating in Mason City also.”

A proposed development agreement would provide for up to ten annual payments of incremental tax rebates to the owner with a maximum benefit of $433,000. The rebates are based on the taxes due for the increase in value resulting from the improvements to the property by construction and leasing of the spaces.

The council will hold the public hearing on the development proposal at their June 7th meeting.