Target date: July 1

Council approves tentative timeline for conference center selection

The Jefferson City Council is hoping to make a final decision on a proposed conference center by mid-summer.

At a council work session Monday, council members approved a tentative timeline for the conference center selection process that would have the city making a decision by July 1.

Late last month, the City Council voted to make public the names of developers who have submitted proposals for a conference center and the sites they selected.

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

The City Council began meeting in closed sessions in February to complete phase one of the conference center proposal process, which was mainly review.

The timeline essentially tells the three proposers when the city intends to complete the process, said 2nd Ward Councilman J. Rick Mihalevich, who developed and presented the timeline.

The timeline would require all phase two proposals to be completed and turned in to city staff by June 3. A special meeting would be held in open session June 6 for the council and public to hear all three proposals in near complete detail. Only specific company financial information for each developer would kept confidential.

“The less you have that’s secret, the better,” said City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus.

After the presentations, the evaluation period would begin, using city staff, as well as a possible

evaluation team and facilitator. The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau also would be involved in the evaluation process, as well as any others invited by the council.

The goal is to have a clear winner by July 1 to enter into negotiations with to build the conference center, though the council could reject all three proposals at the end of the process.

Further discussions on the process and whether to contract with an outside group to act as facilitator during the evaluation phase, will be discussed a the next regular City Council meeting Monday.

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