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Clear Lake council approves feasibility study to place hotel in Surf District

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council last night approved funding a feasibility report as part of a proposal to place a hotel in the Surf District.

The city has had conversations with the owners of the Surf Ballroom and the North Iowa Cultural Center & Museum, the group that oversees the facility’s operations, about a potential redevelopment project within the Surf District that would include a boutique-style hotel.

City Administrator Scott Flory says if the report is positive, the city would apply for a “Destination Iowa” grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. It’s a $100 million project funded by American Rescue Plan Act money that provides grants for transformational, shovel-ready attractions.  “The placemaking initiative is a little bit unique. They are looking for maybe four or five signature-type projects for the state of Iowa. One of the targets is to have the ability to bring in visitors from outside of the state of Iowa. Given our proximity to Wisconsin and Minnesota, we’re in good shape to do that with a project down in the Surf District.”

Flory says typically when it comes to state grant programs like this, Clear Lake is turned down because of the city’s low debt, but he says that won’t factor into choosing successful projects as part of this program.  “We’re not going to get much help except for these kinds of unique, once-in-a-lifetime, generational kinds of opportunities. When this came out, we kind of had some conversations. This is one of those opportunities that we don’t have to be destitute, you don’t have to show that you’ve got high tax rates, high utility rates, you are in debt up to your eyeballs. We think we can just go on the merits of our project here, which is really good.”

Jeff Nicholas from the North Iowa Cultural Center & Museum Board says they are in support of the project.  “We support the Surf, our star is the Surf, and the Surf supports the community and all of North Iowa. We stand willing, ready and able to push forward and see anything we can do to make this project go. This is amazing. We all love this community, and our goal is always to make the Surf the best it can be. If this helps us and helps this community, we’re all in favor.”

The council approved a proposal from Patek Hospitality Consultants of Sussex Wisconsin to perform the study for $10,000, with it to be completed within 60 days. Patek previously completed a study that culminated in the development of the $13 million Marriott Fairfield hotel near Interstate 35.

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