Now that plans for a marketing campaign promoting newly renamed Mozingo Lake Recreation Park are nearly complete, the Maryville City Council is again focusing on a related effort to find a developer willing to construct a hotel and conference center at the 3,000-acre boating and golfing venue.
Meeting in regular session this week, council members took their seats before a colorful new Mozingo backdrop designed for use at trade shows and other exhibitions.
Blazoned with the catchphrase "Change your ... destination," the display features large photographs depicting the park's variety of recreational opportunities, which also include fishing, horseback riding, rental cabins and youth and RV camping.
The backdrop prominently displays the address of the park's new website, www.mozingolake.com.
Both Council Member Renee Riedel and Mayor Glenn Jonagan, who has made a priority of Mozingo development since winning election in 2010, sported dark-colored pullovers featuring the park's new logo.
The marketing effort officially kicks off Saturday, April 6, with a "grand re-opening" that is to include a 5-kilometer run, a college fishing tournament, catered food, golf and live country music.
Though upgrading promotional efforts with regard to Mozingo is an end in itself for the council, members have always hoped raising the lake's profile will improve the chances of attracting a suitable lodge developer.
On Monday, council members were told by City Manager Greg McDanel that a request-for-qualifications document should be ready to send out to interested firms by April 1. If all goes as planned, the council could choose developer for the hotel/conference center before the middle of June.
That will be almost exactly two years after the council hired IDM Group, a consulting firm based in Atkinson, Wis., to write a detailed feasibility study, which predicted that a 70-room "select service lodging facility" at the lake would likely turn a profit. As currently envisioned, the conference center portion of the project would embrace a 5,000 square-foot meeting and dining area capable of accommodating about 250 guests.
IDM based its favorable report on a number of assumptions, one being that lodge occupancy would stabilize at about 70 percent a decade after construction and maintain that rate for another 10 years.
The report further stated that the success of the facility would depend on maintaining "the highest level" of patron services and continued market demand based on a survey of occupancy rates at area hotels.
McDanel told the council Monday that the RFQ will plainly state Maryville is looking for a firm capable of building and running the lodge with minimal "public participation and risk."
Though it is expected Maryville will lease or otherwise provide the land on which the hotel is to stand and facilitate various infrastructure requirements, the lodge itself is to operate strictly as a private concern.
Page 2 of 2 - "We're saying we will be a partner in this project, but that partnership will be limited," McDanel said.
Councilman Jeff Funston also emphasized that the city has no intention of investing in development of a lake hotel or sharing the financial risk of operating it.
"The city is not going to pay the bill for all this," Funston said. "This is a private venture."