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Motel20

The former Motel 20 is shown on a frontage road running parallel with U.S. Highway 20 in Moville, Iowa. The city has bid $150,000 for the property, which most likely would be redeveloped for a future business.

MOVILLE, Iowa -- The city has bid $150,000 for Moville's only motel, which could then be demolished with a goal of redeveloping the property fronting Highway 20.

A real estate company listed the 64-year-old Motel 20 for $240,000. The city offered $150,000 about 1 1/2 months ago, Mayor Jim Fisher said.

Jon Wingert, a sales representative for United Country Heartland Real Estate of Spirit Lake, presented a counteroffer to the City Council at a meeting Wednesday. The City Council decided to stick with its original bid, said Fisher, who declined to disclose the amount of the counteroffer.

Wingert said the motel owner will weigh the city's offer against other interested parties. 

"There's several people that are interested in the property," he said. 

Fisher said the motel, which has been closed for months, is in need of repairs. If the city gains control of the property, city officials would explore selling it to a new operator.

The mayor considered that a long shot, though. 

"That'd be wonderful, but it's going to take a lot of money," he said. 

The most likely scenario would be to raze the structure and turn the property into green space that could be marketed to a new business.

The motel sits along a frontage road parallel to Highway 20 that in the past few years has become a site for numerous Moville businesses, including a Subway, Dollar General and a Lewis Drug store.

The city has looked into developing a new urban renewal district near the frontage road. This week, Fisher asked the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors to consider diverting $750,000 earmarked for a new bridge just outside the city limits to new infrastructure for the frontage road. The state recently completed widening the highway from Early to Moville. The four-lane expressway has brought increased traffic through Moville and other cities along the route.

The Motel 20, built in 1954, was once popular with highway travelers. Decades ago it was painted pink and boasted air conditioning, tile baths, air foam mattresses and TV sets. Fisher said Dewey Hebler, who owned the hotel in its early days, kept a herd of buffalo across the highway visible to curious guests. 

"It was a tourist attraction," Fisher said. 

More recently, the motel was owned by Norwegian immigrants Leiv and Iolanda Salte. Leiv Salte died in a lawn mower accident near the motel in July 2017, and this year Iolanda decided to sell the property.  

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