The Jefferson City Council is seeking input from citizens as it closes in on a direction for redevelopment of the shuttered Missouri State Penitentiary property on the city’s east side.

City leaders have sought to continue developing the 32-acre property into a tourist attraction as well as the site of a long-desired new convention center. They are now up against a July deadline to select a developer to meet the terms of their soon-to-be two-year-old conveyance agreement with the state of Missouri. They have two additional years to begin construction.

An advisory group called the Missouri State Penitentiary Community Partners (MSPCP) was formed to guide plans for the site and create a developer’s agreement. By last December, two developers had submitted proposals – Farmer Companies from Jefferson City and a St. Louis-based group made of Chesterfield Hotels, Arcturis, Pekcham Architecture and Central Missouri Professional Services.

The MSPCP unanimously selected the proposal from the Chesterfield group earlier this year. But city council declined to move on the recommendation, and instead granted an additional 45-days for the two developers to submit their “best and final proposal.” Those proposals are now in and can be reviewed on the city’s website. Also on the site is a survey for collecting public opinion. A public hearing was conducted Monday (May 18) and it is expected council will take up the issue at its June 1 regular meeting.

The proposals are starkly different. The favored proposal from Chesterfield/Arcturis results in a completely redeveloped site that includes an 11-story, $35 million Tapestry by Hilton hotel, an attached $17.5 million conference center, a four-story, $8 million parking garage and a new $16.5 million ice arena. This would serve as a “catalytic anchor” for further development of the site, drawing private investment in restaurants, office and retail space and residential townhomes.

The other, more modest proposal from Farmer Companies, would develop the prison site into an athletic complex with 5-10 lighted, artificially-turfed fields, a snack bar, picnic pavilion, walking trails, playgrounds and restrooms. A restaurant with river views would be built on the north side of the property. The convention center would not be on the site. It would be built on Missouri Boulevard adjacent to the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel the company is currently constructing there.

There are two options to the Farmer proposal. The first with the athletic complex and a 25,000 square foot convention center for $16.7 million. The second would scale down the athletic complex into a park and build a 50,000 square foot convention center for $14.1 million.

There would be several sources of funding for the project, including private equity, conventional financing and a variety of tax abatements and refunds. The project will also be funded with revenues from the city’s lodging tax. In 2011, voters approved raising the tax from 3% to 7% for a future convention center. The fund now contains just over $6 million. In both proposals, the city would retain ownership of the convention center.

City planners are also optimistic about a possible $6 million disaster relief recovery grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for infrastructure work at the prison.