JC Council works out conference center kinks

The Jefferson City Council Monday night handed down a one-week deadline to one of the prospective conference center developers to provide them with more financial information.

At its work session, the Council discussed some of the particulars of the negotiation phase of the city's conference center project.

During that session, the Council determined that the Erhardt group had not provided enough information about how much money it will need from the city to cover the difference between what the developer invests and how much the project actually costs.

The Erhardt group has proposed building a conference center in the heart of downtown Jefferson City, at the intersection of Broadway and East McCarty Street. Their proposal would cost $24.6 million and would be built at the site of an old state laboratory.

"If you go back and figure that this is a project that has been in the works for months, I think that they should already have those numbers," said Ward 3 Councilman Bob Scrivner. "If they don't have those numbers, I would be very much surprised, and I would even question how serious they are about doing this development."

Scrivner said without an estimate of how much Erhardt would need from the city, the Council cannot calculate incentives or determine what type of incentives to offer either developer.

During the same work session, the Council also voted to eliminate MO 353 tax abatement as an option for either developer. The council had some concerns that if they were to allow MO353 for the prospective conference center developers, that the developers may have to radically change their plans or scale them back.

TIF plans remain on the table as possible tax incentives. The Farmer Holding Company, which owns capital mall, had asked for a 100% TIF plan for its conference center proposal. Under the plan, 100% of all new sales tax revenue generated on their property would go straight back to the developer.

Although the council did not approve any tax incentives Monday night, a few council members said the one-week deadline for Erhardt Group to provide them with more financial information will help the Council make such decisions more quickly.