Drury withdraws its conference center plan

Drury Hotels has withdrawn its plan for a Jefferson City conference center, notifiying the city less than a week before its proposal was to be presented to the public.

A special City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall to unveil the conference center proposals.

Three developers had submitted proposals for a conference center, which will be funded by a voter-approved lodging tax that is estimated to allow for a $9 million facility.

• Ehrhardt Hospitality Group, based in Hannibal, has proposed the facility at the West McCarty Street site;

• Drury Development Company, based in St. Louis, submitted a proposal for the West McCarty Street site, the old Missouri State Penitentiary site or any other site that meets city requirements;

• Farmer Holding Company, a local developer, has proposed the facility at the Capital Mall.

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus announced Drury's decision to withdraw today; he was notified in a letter Friday.

Nickolaus said in a statement today: “We are obviously disappointed that Drury has withdrawn. They were gracious in their conduct. We look forward to the opportunity to work with them in the future.”

In the letter to the city, Drury officials said they had reviewed “site selection, hotel market data, the current hotel product, design and construction of a conference center, ongoing operating and maintenance cost of a conference center and a new hotel's performance risk.”

Drury officials noted they had found:

• The McCarty Street location to be the best option of the pre-qualified conference center sites.

• The ongoing operating cost and future renovation cost of the center is likely to exceed operating revenues generated by the center. Officials said public ownership or support may be necessary for a successful operation.

• The occupancy and average daily rate of the current hotel market was a concern.


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