City releases final details on conference center proposals

Specifics on final plans for a proposed Jefferson City conference center released today detail the amount of public investment required by two competing developers.

A summary of the two proposals was provided to the News Tribune by City Attorney Drew Hilpert.

The proposal from Jefferson City-based Farmer Holding Co. includes a 61,000 square foot conference center to be located within the Capital Mall, with a 127-room hotel attached. The largest single room in the Farmer’s proposal is 40,000 square feet and the total conference center cost would be roughly $14 million. The hotel itself would cost just under $14 million.

The proposal from Hannibal-based Ehrhardt Hospitality Group includes a nearly 45,000 square foot conference center in the 300 block of West McCarty Street, with a 150-room hotel attached. The largest single room in the Ehrhardts’ proposal is 30,000 square feet, with an additional 2,000 square feet of break out space within the hotel. The conference center would cost $13.8 million and the hotel itself would cost $15 million.

Both proposals would use at least $9 million that is expected to be raised by the city’s lodging tax.

The Farmers’ proposal includes a tax increment financing district on the Capital Mall and new hotel, as well as a community improvement district, both of which have already been approved by the City Council. The proposal also would capture the 3 percent lodging tax earmarked for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau on the new hotel.

The city collects 7 percent lodging tax on all hotels within the city, with 4 percent going to the conference center fund and 3 percent going to the CVB to fund its operations.

The Ehrhardt proposal includes tax abatement on the new hotel, as well as a 250-space parking garage built by the city at an estimated cost of $5 million. The proposal also specifies the need for overflow parking in the 200 block of West McCarty Street, which the city estimates would cost an additional $1.2 million for improvements.

The Ehrhardt proposal also would use a community improvement district and transportation development district to capture additional revenues from the hotel, conference center and Capitol Plaza, though the proposal notes those boundaries could expand if needed.

A public hearing on the two proposals will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in City Hall. Those who wish to speak are encouraged to sign up before the meeting by contacting City Clerk Phyllis Powell at 634-6311 or PPowell@jeffcitymo.org.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposals at its April 7 meeting.

Look for more details on the two proposals in the updated version of this article, Final conference center plans revealed.

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