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story.lead_photo.caption The entrance of the Missouri State Penitentiary is seen Wednesday October 10, 2018 on Lafayette Street. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Jefferson City staff have received a go-ahead from the Jefferson City Council to apply for a disaster recovery grant for infrastructure work on the Missouri State Penitentiary site.

The grant, if awarded, could provide approximately $6 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

On Monday, the council approved a resolution for city staff to apply for the grant to be used for roads, parking and infrastructure identified in the Missouri State Penitentiary Redevelopment Plan.

The city would be required to provide a 20 percent match of $1.2 million from the half-cent capital improvements sales tax. City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said the funds within the sales tax have previously been designated for public infrastructure at the site.

Moehlman said the application can be done in a project neutral way in relation to the two current proposals on the table for the penitentiary.

In December, two developers presented their plans for the potential redevelopment of 32 acres of property at Missouri State Penitentiary the state conveyed to the city in 2018.

The land is between the historic site and Chestnut Street, as well as some right-of-way areas and the old shoe factory, the second-oldest building on the prison site.

Redevelopment of the site has been on the mind of the city since the late 1990s, when prisoners were still on site.

In 1999, a 24-member task force was created and was made up of city, state, county and local civic organization representatives to create a plan for the redevelopment of the 142-acre site once the inmates were moved, which would eventually happen in 2004. They anticipated legislation would be introduced in 2001 to establish redevelopment guidelines, and they would begin redevelopment in summer 2001.

Redevelopment did not occur at that time, and the plans were set aside until the conveyance.

The city formed the Missouri State Penitentiary Community Partners shortly after the land was conveyed, made up of city, county and state representatives. The MSPCP planned to use the MSP Master Plan, created by the original task force in 2001, as a guide.

In August 2019, the Jefferson City Council approved a developer performance agreement for the prison, which detailed what the MSPCP hoped to see on the site. By the Dec. 1, 2019, deadline, two developers had submitted proposals — local Farmer Companies and a St. Louis-based group made up of Chesterfield Hotels, Arcturis, Peckham Architecture and Central Missouri Professional Services.

The city must select a developer within two years of the land conveyance, according to an agreement between the city and state. That deadline is coming up in July. The city must also start construction within four years.

Moehlman said the deadline for the grant application is May 1, so if the council makes a decision on the developer before the application is submitted, the grant application could potentially be altered to more specifically meet the proposal.

"If no decision is made by the time of application, essentially we can put forward a plan where we are doing more general types of laying out the public infrastructure within MSP with the goal of creating develop-able commercial pad sites."

Moehlman said if the city is chosen to receive a grant it could be awarded in September.

This article was edited at 1:55 p.m. March 17, 2020, to clarify the headline.

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