Year in Review 2019

As the new year begins, we take a look back at the stories which made headlines in 2019.

by Marianne Gasaway

As we look ahead to a new decade, it is the perfect time to review the last year of this one. From chart-topping businesses to booming events, record weather to records of the past, 2019 has been one for the books. Here are what we consider to be the top stories of 2019:

#1 If you build it, they will come

The Clear Lake City Council bought into the “build it and they will come” philosophy in January and it paid huge dividends for the city in 2019.   The group voted unanimously to spend an estimated $1.7 million to fund the first two phases of improvements to North 32nd Street, north of Highway 122, just east of Interstate 35.

“If we want economic development, it’s not going to be with gravel (road) and no infrastructure,” City Administrator Scott Flory told the Council.  “Proactive is how you land a project.  Reactive is not.”

The preliminary plat for the Courtway Park Subdivision was passed in June by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.  The 64-acre tract of land which formerly was occupied by Andrews Prestresssed Concrete, is located on the north side of State Highway 122 between I-35 and North 32nd Street.

The first project announced for the area was a 31-door terminal and small office for Old Dominion Freight Line.  The $5 million project which will provide five to 10 full-time jobs.  Old Dominion, headquartered in Thomasville, N.C., reported revenue exceeding $4 billion in 2018, according to Forbes.  The business is a “less than truckload” national shipping company.

  The area will be fenced and have room for future expansion.

In August, Clear Lake City leaders gave their unanimous approval to a letter of intent for a potential development agreement supporting a hotel and conference center project in the new Courtway Park subdivision and in October it was announced that a GrandStay Hotel and conference center, along with a Jethro’s BBQ restaurant, will anchor the new Courtway Park development on 5.8 acres east of Interstate 35.

GrandStay Hospitality, based in Minneapolis, Minn., has 34 hotels throughout the Midwest.  Clear Lake will be the third Iowa location for the hotel, joining Ames and Rock Valley.  Approximately one-half of its properties are located in  Minnesota, with others reaching neighboring Wisconsin, Illinois, North and South Dakota, and extending as far west as Oregon and east to Michigan. The Clear Lake property will have 75 guest rooms.  A 5,000 square foot convention center will be located across a courtyard which likely will feature outdoor seating, possible fire pits and other outdoor amenities.

Des Moines based Jethro’s Restaurant will be making its first venture into North Iowa.  It currently has eight locations in the greater Des Moines area and Ames.

Clear Lake’s economic development plan with WillowStream LLC calls for construction of a hotel, conference center and restaurant project of not less than $4.5 million in taxable valuation during years one through four to qualify for a $4 million forgivable loan.  During years five through eight, it would be not less than $5 million taxable. In years eight

through 12, it would be not less than $5.5 million taxable. Not less than 25 full-time equivalent jobs must be produced.

Completion for the hotel and restaurant projects is expected no later than November 2020.

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