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Your Opinion: Consider St. Mary's building for city's multi-use center

Your Opinion: Consider St. Mary's building for city's multi-use center

December 15th, 2013 by Tim Stallman, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

An open letter to the City Council of Jefferson City ...

Before you go any further on a convention center selection and before you spend $5 million on a multipurpose building, please consider the following:

Right now the (soon to be) former St. Mary's Health Center complex is unsold and available.

This site could be renovated in such a way as to become the most fantastic site for the ultimate multipurpose building. It could be renovated to hold conventions, sporting events, conferences and commercial exhibitions. The upper floors could be used for offices (generating rent) and a small business incubator. This event center would take the place of a convention center and the multipurpose building. The site has proximity to the Capitol, ample parking and already the Missouri Boulevard for access. It would not create more hotel rooms. A huge panoramic window on one of the levels facing the Capitol dome would remind visitors that they are in the capital city. What's not to like?

The owners of the hospital, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary, should be contacted to see what the asking price would be, considering that this would be constructed to serve all the population of our area, as the hospital did, something a mere convention center will not do.

Yes, there would be a significant renovation and demolition cost. The oldest part of the complex should be saved as a memorial to the Moerschel family who donated the land and the sisters who founded the hospital. This cut stone part of the event complex would set it apart from other, less classy, unhistoric convention centers in other cities. Perhaps historic preservation money could be a part of the financing equation.

It's even possible that a skyway could be constructed from the Capitol. or downtown area to the event center. The Downtown Business Association could help pay for that since they would be the prime benefactors. Maybe the state would also help if some of the site was used for state offices.

The state of Missouri is not going to give up the land where the downtown convention center site is proposed, nor should they. That land will be needed some day by the state for something else.

Time is running out to do this. Please consider this plan.