St. Louis Public Radio News
4:48 pm
Wed December 30, 2009

Redevelopment plans for old Mo. State Prison

Jefferson City, Mo. – State and local officials have unveiled redevelopment plans for the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

Plans for the 140-acre site include government buildings, privately-owned residential and retail space, and preserving much of the historical prison facility.

Kelvin Simmons heads Governor Nixon's Office of Administration.

"We'll continue to try to do the environmental (work), do the clean-up, get the infrastructure in place, and then the next thing is try to entice private developers," Simmons said.

Simmons and other officials involved with the project say they don't know yet how much redeveloping the site will cost. A new federal courthouse is already under construction west of the old prison, and is set to open in 2011.

John Landwehr is Mayor of Jefferson City.

"It's a very large site, it's got historic artifacts that are the envy of many historians in the nation and in the world," Landwehr said.

Before closing in 2004, the old Missouri State Penitentiary was the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River.

It's had its share of famous and infamous inmates, including boxer Sonny Liston, bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd, James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing Martin Luther King, and "Stagger Lee" Shelton, the subject of a classic blues song.