By TONY BROWN Staff writer Maryville Daily Forum
Construction of a long-awaited hotel at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park officially got under way Thursday afternoon as local officials, along with representatives from developer Boulders Inn & Suites, picked up a dozen gold-painted shovels and turned over a few pounds of ceremonial earth.
The 40-room hotel — a key component in the park’s 20-year master plan — is being privately developed by Iowa-based Boulders in conjunction with a group of local investors, Boulders Inn Maryville, and carries an estimated cost of $3.2 million.
Boulders CEO Tim Stuart said that more than half the capital needed for the project was put up by the Maryville investment organization, which is organized as a separate limited liability company.
Stuart said he expects construction to last through the late winter or early spring of 2017, and that the lodge’s opening will coincide with completion of a $4 million publicly financed conference center that is to contain a new golf course clubhouse and pro shop, restaurant, and banquet facilities.
At 19,000 square feet, the hotel will be slightly more than half the size of the 30,000-square-foot center.
As reported earlier, the hotel will be managed by Boulders and, with the exception of some utilities infrastructure, involves no expenditure of tax dollars either for construction or operations. The conference center restaurant will also be run by a private third-party vendor.
Stuart said the Mozingo hotel represents his company’s 13th commercial lodging facility. Eleven of those lodges are operational, and a 12th is currently under construction in Manning, Iowa.
Two of Boulders other properties are also located on golf courses and a third was developed on a lakeshore.
Stuart said the Mozingo project is similar to the company’s first Boulders Inn, which opened in Denison, Iowa, in 2008, and likewise adjoins a municipal conference center.
As with Boulders’ other developments, this one will use Huegerich Construction of Carroll, Iowa, as the general contractor.
In an apparent response to social media posts made a week or so ago criticizing the use of out-of-town subcontractors, City Manager Greg McDanel said a number of local contracting businesses will take part in the project, and that some building materials, such as rebar, are being purchased locally as well.
Tracing the history of the project in a brief speech during Thursday’s ceremony, McDanel said the concept for the lodge grew from a feasibility study commissioned by the City Council and completed by consulting firm IDM in 2012. That report declared that a 70-room hotel at the lake could make money.
However the study also identified a number of downsides, especially an “unprofessional” marketing approach that failed to emphasize Mozingo’s potential as a regional tourist and corporate events destination.
As the hotel proposal gained focus, it was championed by former city councilmen Glenn Jonagan and Jim Fall.
Fall currently serves as executive editor of the Maryville Daily Forum.
McDanel said both men instructed municipal staff to “make it happen,” marching orders that led to the creation of a comprehensive marketing campaign initially designed by a group of students at Northwest Missouri State University.
Another piece in the hotel puzzle, McDanel said, fell into place with the hiring of Assistant City Manager Ryan Heiland, who was put in charge of overall operations at the 3,000-acre park.
Heiland played a key role in streamlining Mozingo’s organizational structure — a move, in part, calculated to integrate development of a hotel/conference center complex with existing park operations.
McDanel said it was Heiland who suggested recruiting Boulders Inn & Suites after seeing a television news report of a Boulders development adjoining a golf course and conference center in Polk City, Iowa.
Thursday’s ceremony, McDanel said, was the “crescendo of a five-year effort” to bring commercial lodging to Mozingo Lake, and especially to the Sechrest 18 and Watson 9 golf courses.
Stuart called the event “an exciting day for our company,” adding that he was eager to “get a shovel in my hands and get this thing going.” He also described his company’s relationship with local government and economic development officials as a “mutual admiration society.”
“The more we looked, the more excited we got about coming to Maryville,” Stuart said.
When completed, the hotel is to offer “upscale lodging” consisting of both single rooms and a limited number of suites. Stuart said that the facility’s modular design means it could be enlarged to 70 or 80 units at the point business volume justifies expansion.
Thursday’s ground-breaking ceremony was hosted by the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce.