By RUSTY EBERT
---- — KEOSAUQUA — Owners of a Keosauqua business have approached the City Council in regards to a major project involving the Hotel Manning.
John and Sonia Stookesberry have owned Village Cup and Cakes for the past 10 years and started Starwest Cable in the early 1980s. They would like to purchase the Hotel Manning from owners Ron and Melinda Davenport.
“It’s a large vision,” Stookesberry told the City Council. “The plan is to remodel the hotel into the old grand building she is and using historic funds, to be brought back to its grandeur; it will last for the next 100 years.”
Stookesberry said some of the buildings behind the original hotel will be removed under the proposal, with an events center built, capable of housing 250 people.
“We would keep the two-story new hotel,” he said. “I feel it’s a very good project for Keosauqua,”
In order to help finance the project, he would like to take advantage of using a state tax credit program for historic buildings. He is working on financing the $2.5 million project.
Stookesberry requested a Tax Increment Financing District be set up in the downtown, including the Hotel Manning. Tax increment financing is a method of reallocating property tax revenues, which are produced as a result of an increase in taxable valuation above a “base valuation” figure within a tax increment area. Until the tax increment debt within an area has been repaid, tax revenues produced by property tax levies imposed on the increased taxable valuation by a city, county, school district, area school or any other taxing jurisdiction are all allocated back to the city or county which has established the TIF. The city needs to identify the boundaries or legal description of the proposed area.
“A project this large has to be a public/private venture. It could lead into more projects downtown. To make that work, there needs to be a good first example. We’re taking a pretty good gamble, but we want this to showcase the Hotel Manning. We have been talking about the Hotel Manning for a few years. Our hope is this will invigorate the town,” Stookesberry said.
Keosauqua already has a TIF district/urban renewal zone on the city’s north side, according to Keosauqua Mayor Hranicka.
The city has two options, he said. One would be to use the existing TIF and extend the urban renewal zone down to include the hotel. The other option is to establish a new TIF district. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
The first option, using the existing TIF, already has a cash balance and revenue attached to it, while the second option would take time to build an available balance, Hranicka told Stookesberry. However, the city would have to discuss with the bonding company to see if the first option was available.
Either way, Hranicka said, it could take time to get one established.
City Attorney John Morrissey said, “the council might spend four or five months getting there.”
The council was agreeable to consult with the bonding agency and gather information from necessary sources.