The Waterloo city council Monday night unanimously approved a massive incentive package that will allow a South Dakota development company buy and renovate the aging downtown Ramada Hotel.

Makenda LLC plans to close on the purchase next month. Once the deal is finalized, the 10-story facility will be turned into a 99-unit Best Western Plus and a 69-unit Executive Residency. The company plans to invest nearly $10 million into the project and complete renovations by August 2020.

"We're not going to dip our toe into the water," said Brian Kern, Makenda's president and CEO. "We're going to dive into this thing."

At a Monday evening news conference that followed the city council meeting, company officials unveiled some general improvement designs for the hotel. They said said Makenda plans to overhaul the hotel's restaurant, upgrade the skywalk connector to the Five Sullivan Brothers Center across the street, renovate the swimming pool area, and replace the existing hot tub next to the pool with a splash pad.

Officials said the upper six levels of the hotel would be turned into an Executive Residency that will feature suites for extended stay guests. The lower four floors, the Best Western Plus part of the dual brand facility, will have normal rooms for overnight and short-stay guests.

As part of the deal, city leaders Monday evening agreed to give Makenda a $450,000 Economic Development Grant, 85-percent property tax rebates for 20 years and additional hotel-motel tax incentives.

Makenda's purchase agreement is for the hotel only.

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart said the city plans to hire a management company to run the convention center. The city also plans to invest about $2 million to improve the convention center and other public areas that connect to the hotel.

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