Council to hear hotelier’s presentation

Conference center plan unlikely to be considered, officials say

The Truman Hotel in Jefferson City

The Truman Hotel in Jefferson City Photo by News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Council will hear an alternate conference center proposal Monday, but the chances of the proposal actually being considered remain small.

At the City Council meeting Monday, Vivek Puri will have 10 minutes to make a presentation on an alternate plan for a conference center at the Truman Hotel, which was recently acquired by the Puri Group.

Last month, the Puris announced in a News Tribune article their intent to submit a proposal to the council for a conference center, but the council is in ongoing contract negotiations with two other developers for conference center proposals.

Council members have stated their intent to follow through the process that began last fall and indicated they only would consider the proposal from the Puris if the proposals from Farmer Development and the Ehrhardt Hospitality Group were rejected.

Interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert said though it’s “late in the game” and Puri is not part of the ongoing conference center process, it seemed appropriate to give him a venue to make his remarks.

“Let him say what he needs to say,” Hilpert said.

But some council members are concerned about what Puri’s presentation might signify to the public.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Carrie Carroll asked Hilpert to clarify the process with the two existing developers Monday night, so the public can understand why Puri’s proposal is not being considered.

Third Ward Councilman Bob Scrivner said he is a little uncomfortable with Puri giving a presentation Monday and questioned whether Puri really thinks it’s appropriate for the council to just reject the process they’ve gone through for the past year.

“I’m a little uneasy with the fact that he seems to expect us to put the other process aside and move him to the head of the class,” Scrivner said. “I think that ought to be made known to him that night.”

Scrivner said he wants people to know that if the council opts to reject the two proposals they have, it will be because they are not the facility the city needs and not because of Puri’s new proposal.

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