Conference center hits financial snag

A Chicago-based real estate consultant announced at a Jefferson City council meeting Thursday night that a proposed conference center would not turn a profit for ten years.

The city commissioned the study to present the information to the two possible developers. Jefferson City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said Charlie Johnson of Johnson Consulting will present the findings to Farmer Holding Company and Ehrhardt Hospitality Group.

Jefferson City-based Farmer Holding proposes the conference center to be located near Capital Mall.

Ehrhardt Hospitality Group, of Hannibal, has planned their version of the conference center to be downtown on West McCarty near Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Both proposals include a hotel and conference center that will operate as one entity. The hotel will be responsible for generating revenue.

"It's not surprising that conference centers lose money, that's pretty well-known. The question is can they make enough money on their hotel to cover the loss on the conference center and make a profit overall," Nickolaus said.

Nickolaus said right now Johnson is presenting the information to the developers to begin negotiations and determine their best offers.

He said that could take around 30 days. After that, the city council will decide whether the offers are anything they would want to pursue.