A community development entity that helps administer federal tax credits has secured the cash to close the funding gap for a big project in northern Iowa. The money will help restore the Park Inn Hotel, the last standing Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel building in the world.
Officials with Iowa Community Development L.C. announced that the “Wright on the Park” group in Mason City will receive over two-million dollars in tax credits from the federal New Markets Tax Credit program. It’s designed to compensate investors for the perceived risk of investing in economically distressed communities, with the credits being distributed through community development entities.
I.C.D. board member Dan Robeson made the announcement. He says the money will allow the project to clear “a major hurdle.” Robeson says the I.C.D. board saw the positive impacts of restoring the building for Mason City’s downtown area.
“We get involved in projects where there’s a strong likelihood that the investment will produce economic activity to stimulate a positive outcome in and around the census tract where the project’s located,” Robeson said. “Simply said, this project does qualify. It’s in the right census tract.” Robeson says the I.C.D. board had been following the Park Inn restoration effort for a while and didn’t want to see it fail.
He says the board concluded that they wanted to make sure that Mason City was the community that saved the last Wright-designed hotel instead of the town that tore it down. The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 expanded eligibility to the New Markets Tax Credit program to communities with census tracts in “high out-migration rural counties” based on 2000 census data. Cerro Gordo County has two qualifying tracts, including the Mason City downtown area where the Park Inn Hotel is located.
Contributed by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City