Alternative for Main Street blight found
November 03, 2008
With the momentum of downtown revitalization evident, the city of Joplin is looking to cooperate with the state of Missouri in a project that will significantly accelerate the progress in the downtown. The state is currently working to consolidate their various services in Joplin, and the city has stepped forward with an innovative proposal that would not only benefit the state but also provide a catalyst to redevelopment of the southern end of the downtown area.

“The city has offered financial assistance in the acquisition of property and development of a new consolidated state office building,” said Mark Rohr, city manager. “The city owns property on the east side of the 900 block of Virginia, which offers a great opportunity to develop a blighted area of downtown and provide an incentive for future investment in this area of the downtown.”

The 900 block of Main Street was declared blighted several years ago by the Joplin City Council and it is also included in the downtown redevelopment area.

“I am told the city has looked to develop this area various times, but in the past the right project has not come along,” said Rohr. “This state office would bring nearly 300 employees into the downtown area daily who would need various amenities and services, including restaurants, retail and entertainment options. In addition, it creates a great benefit to our citizens with a one-stop shop for state services in a central location of Joplin.”

Noting the significance of existing service organizations in the area, city officials recently met with Joann Lewis, executive director of Soul’s Harbor, to discuss this prospective project and any potential impact it could have on this important component of the city.

“Because of the magnitude of the project, the building could encompass the whole 900 block of Main and Virginia, or the 800 and 900 blocks of Main,” said Rohr. “The city would work closely with their organization, as well as other businesses in the area, to provide any assistance they might need if this area is selected by the state.”

The state recently put out a request for proposal on the project. Their information specifies that they are seeking a 60,000 square foot office building to house their state offices in Joplin, including the departments of social services, health & senior services, corrections, vocational rehabilitation, veterans, highway patrol, child support enforcement, revenue and mental health.

“This project would stimulate the Joplin economy,” said Mayor Gary Shaw. “Obviously, the construction of the building would bring new jobs to the area, and upon its completion, we anticipate new businesses opening in this area and creating more job opportunities. The council felt strongly that we can best help the city as a whole through new construction.”

The city began its emphasis on downtown redevelopment in July 2005. The plan included various areas of improvements, but is focused on four major areas. These include streetscaping, parking (and transportation considerations), structures and amenities which includes the enhancement of appearance and offerings to attract people to this area.

“As we look back the past three years, much has changed in the downtown area,” Rohr said. “A lot has been accomplished, and with this potential larger employer in the downtown, I believe significant growth could emerge in the southern parts of Main Street.”

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