Council Gives Go-Ahead For New Fieldhouse, Hotel Complex Near Mac
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Expect the ball to get rolling “immediately” on building a new fieldhouse and hotel complex by the Mid-America Center, according to Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation.
The Council Bluffs City Council gave its unanimous approval Monday evening to a development agreement between the city and MAC Ventures LLC for the project, which received high praise from about 20 people who spoke at the public hearing.
“This is a win win project, a destination type project,” said John Jerkovich, a local real estate developer.
Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, added: “We think this will be good for the entire community.”
MAC Ventures, a business entity put together by the Iowa West Foundation, is the purchaser and master developer of the project.
The corporation plans to lease one lot to FieldhouseUSA to build an indoor facility featuring 12 volleyball and eight basketball courts and sell a second lot for a 130-room full-service Courtyard by Marriott hotel featuring room service, an in-house restaurant and bar.
“I’m pleased that the council saw tremendous advantage this facility will bring to the community,” Tulipana said after the vote.
He wasn’t alone in this view of the fieldhouse. Many expressed similar sentiments during the public hearing that lasted more than an hour.
“This is a great opportunity to develop that part of the city,” said Lynne Branigan, local businesswoman and former City Council members.
Martha Bruckner, superintendent of the Council Bluffs Community School District, added: “There certainly is a desire for this.”
Dave Zimmerman, a local banker, said area youth sports teams have to travel to Omaha for games because of lack of facilities here.
“This would be a much nicer facility and better amenities and it may take some of that market share from Omaha,” he said.
The approved development agreement features recent changes from initial discussions. They include a pledge from Iowa West that all money received from the 15-year tax-increment financing of the fieldhouse, along with all tax rebates of the planned hotel be reinvested back into the community. The proposal was originally for 18 years of TIF.
The developer also pledges to have money available to address future parking issues. The city will not be responsible for upkeep of the parking area used by the hotel.
Local children, especially from lower-income families, will have opportunities through financial aid to use the facility, Tulipana said.
“The taxpayers will never be on the hook,” Councilman Nate Watson said, who expressed concerns two weeks ago that the project needed some more work.
Councilman Al Ringgenberg, who was also concerned about the financing at the last meeting, concluded: “This is an opportunity we can’t allow to slip through our fingers.”
By Tim Rohwer