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Jefferson City Council to explore options for Missouri State Penitentiary

Jefferson City council members passed a resolution to explore options for the Missouri State Penitentiary during Monday night’s city council meeting.

The former prison closed in 2004. Five years later, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau starting giving history and haunted tours of the site.

Since then, the popularity of the tours has grown exponentially, according to Mayor Carrie Tergin.

In 2015, the CVB gave tours to nearly 26,000 people, Tergin said.

The city wants to partner with the state to work with private and public developers on the property.

One option the council may consider would be to enter into a long-term lease with the state for a portion of the area.

There are many possibilities for development at the former penitentiary if approved. Some of those things included in the master plan are an access or marina to the riverfront, a convention center meeting space, restaurants and an access road to the site.

Tergin said Jefferson City is the only city in the country with a capitol building, river and a former state prison. She said if the plan moves forward, the penitentiary could be a dominate economic tool for the city.

“It would be an economic boost to that whole part of the town,” Tergin said. “It would really come alive. There is so much potential and very few cities have an opportunity of that kind of land available for growth right in the core, right in the heart of their city.”

Several city council members spoke in support of the plans during the council meeting Monday night. But Councilman Glen Costales cautioned members to remember they are looking at infrastructure problems and projects they already cannot fund across the city.

Tergin said the next step for the project will be to have a council meeting or work session on the future options.

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