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Convention center decision expected tonight in Jefferson City

Missouri Department of Tourism
Missouri Department of Tourism

After a long process of meeting with developers and finalizing each proposal, the Jefferson City council is expected to decide between two convention center proposals at Monday night’s meeting.

One proposal by Ehrhardt Hotels Group would build a conference center, hotel and parking garage on West McCarty Street in downtown Jefferson City. The conference center would be approximately 45,000 square feet and the hotel would have 150 rooms. The approximate cost of the project would be $28.8 million. 

The other proposal from Farmers Holding Company would construct a convention center and hotel on Capital Mall. The conference center would be approximately 61,000 square feet, and the hotel would house 127 rooms. The approximate price tag would be $28 million.

“They were both good developers and brought good things to the table,” Jefferson City councilmember Carrie Tergin said. “We’ve had two (proposals) on the table from the beginning. We really need to look closely at one. The time is now, we need to narrow it down to one proposal and really examine it to see whether or not it is going to work.”

Tergin said that meeting planners want the center to be located in the heart of the city.

“We need to keep it near the core,” she said. “It needs to be near the capital, near our tourist attractions, near what gives our community character.”

Jefferson City voters approved a lodging tax increase three years ago. The money from the increase was set aside for the purpose of building a convention center in the city. Tergin said the increase has raised approximately $9-10 million for the center.

If a proposal is chosen Monday, it would just be the start of the negotiation process. Tergin said there will be plenty of work to do beyond Monday’s meeting. But, she says it is time the taxpayers see their money put to use and to make the center a reality.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a producer, reporter and educator.
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