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      Council Hears Convention Center Bids

      Bids for a new conference center are down to 2 proposals.

      T he Jefferson City Council heard presentations for the development of a conference center in the Capital City. Talk of a conference center coming to Jefferson City has been happening for decades and now it appears city leaders are one step closer to making it a reality. Bids for a new Jefferson City convention center are down to two proposals.

      Farmer Holding Company, a local developer that owns the Capital Mall, wants to put the facility at the mall at a cost of about $25 million dollars.

      Ehrhardt Hospitality Group, which is based in Hannibal, proposed to put a facility downtown, between the Expressway and Mccarty Street with a price tag of $36 million.

      A third developer, Drury Hotels, had eleventh-hour concerns about the long-term financial viability of the project, and dropped out of consideration last week.

      Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph said, "I think it will take about 60 to 90 days to really find out who the finalist will be who will be trying to finalize contracts and that kind of thing. It's something that we've been at a long time. We're definitely excited to be here tonight. We really do appreciate both companies believing in our community."

      City leaders are prepared to spend $9 million from lodging tax revenues on the construction of an exhibition hall and convention facility. City officials want the developer to run the center and to bear all operating costs.

      4th ward councilwoman Carrie Carroll said, "I feel confident that things will move forward. It's great to have a facilitator with experience to guide us through the process and help us ask the right questions.â??

      City leaders hope to have a new conference center in operation within the next 3 years, but not without plenty of public input.