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Jefferson City approves plan for new River Market

The Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City under a sunny sky.
Via Missouri State Penitentiary on Facebook
Jefferson City Council members voted to redevelop land next to the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY — Jefferson City Council members voted in favor of a plan to redevelop a piece of land the city owns next to the Missouri State Penitentiary Monday night. The plan includes the construction a river market at the location. The city was at risk of losing the land and millions of dollars in state funding along with it.

"We have a community revitalization grant, and it's a match grant. So if we would not fulfill the terms in that grant, then we could lose, potentially, the city-controlled area, as well as $2.1 million in grant funding," city spokesperson Molly Bryan said.

Part of the terms of the contract with the state involve having the site developed by July 2025. Bryan said the city already has the appropriated funds to meet the state matching grant.

In response to why council members would consider voting against the proposal, Ward Three councilmember Treaka Young said they are concerned about a lack of infrastructure in the area.

"But that's one of the things it's going to be able to bring us," Young said. "The new infrastructure process — that will help us to be able to build on for future things that we may have in mind."

The site is on Chestnut Street, close to the Missouri River. The current proposal includes a pavilion with plans to be used partially as a farmer's market. The plan includes planting grass on a vast majority of the multi-acre space, which could be further developed later on.

Young said there was also concern that other community institutions, such as Lincoln University, have plans to open a farmer's market.

"We were concerned about duplication of efforts. And we were able to work that out. It seems that we do have support from the other entities," Young said.

Young explained that council members have met with the state and other community entities to discuss the project, and she said she will be voting to approve the current proposal at the Monday night meeting.

Jefferson City Parks and Recreation will operate the space if the plan goes through.

"You can just picture the views and the events that could take place with the backdrop of the river here," Ashley Wiskirchen, community relations manager for the department, said.

Part of the plan involves knocking down a large stretch of old wall from the penitentiary and paving Chestnut Street down the park street. A portion of the street is currently gravel.

Wiskirchen said the market and pavilion will be able to rent for public and private events, such as birthday parties and art shows.

"We do have Deborah Cooper Park (located on the Missouri River in front of the State Capitol, northwest of the proposal site), so the opportunity to connect trail systems from that park all the way up to the east side of the Capitol is also a really great opportunity," she said.

Jefferson City has already spent city money as well as matched state funding to remove rubble from old buildings on the site.

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