Mason City leaders voted Tuesday night to list the Park Inn Hotel on E-Bay. The downtown hotel is the last one in existence designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Councilmember Lori Henry favored the idea of using the Internet auction site to find a buyer for the aging landmark.
Henry says the account is very flexible and others who know about the hotel can sell their items on E-Bay and contribute a portion of their sales to the Mason City project. Councilmember John Jazsewski says the old hotel is historic, but the upper floors have been vacant for 20 years and are in dire need of expensive repair. Jazsewski says it could cost up to ten-million dollars to do the job right, money that will be difficult to raise in Mason City alone. The building was purchased by the Mason City Foundation from the city in 2000 for 75-thousand dollars with the stipulation it be restored in five years. Nearly one-million has already been spent on the structure, which is no where near completion. Jazsewski says it’s going to take a lot more money. One local group wants to use more taxpayer dollars in matching funds to apply for grants to complete repairs. Jazsewski says “What’s wrong with letting the world, with many Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts, know such a building exists and give them a chance to invest in saving it?” Councilmember Max Weaver says the E-Bay listing is a step in the right direction for the community.
Weaver says there’s nothing to fear in the move and that putting the property on E-Bay will actually answer a lot of questions. He says putting the hotel in an international spotlight via the Internet may generate a buzz — or not. Weaver says he’s been told for years how “people all over the world are watching” what’s done with the hotel. Now’s the time, he says, to see if that’s really the case. The main floor of the hotel most recently housed the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, which moved out a few years ago after it was discovered there was a high concentration of mold in the building. The ad should appear on E-Bay early next month.