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Joplin Optimistic, But Cautious About Future of Housman's Building

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     The City of Joplin is optimistic about a possible contract between the city and Missouri Southern to redevelop a couple of properties downtown.
     But the time frame for one of them could cause some serious issues.
 Missouri Southern's proposal to the city is multi-phased.
Phase one is turning the library into a new academic building.
The issues lie in phase-two -- when the university would turn the Houseman's building at 5th and Virginia into student housing.
Bolander: "The problem with the Housman's building specifically is the property owner's walked away from that building, the county has taken it over through their trust for back taxes."
Another problem -- city officials say it could be several years before the project takes shape -- and the building is already deteriorating.
That's when the cost of demolition enters.
Haase: "It comes from a revolving fund, it's called the revolving public improvement fund, and, if we tear a property down then we assess the property owner for tearing it down and they're supposed to pay that plus interest, that's why it's a revolving fund."
That's how the majority of demolitions the city tackles are paid for.
While the Housman's building is not slated for demolition at this time, if that day does come, there's yet another issue.
Bolander: "With larger commercial buildings, especially when they share a common wall with another building that's actually in pretty good shape, that is a risky project, and of course it's going to be more expensive."
While city officials are hopeful that somebody will step up and save old buildings like this one, the choice for demolition is never an easy one.
Bolander: "Joplin's really not in the business of demolishing buildings, we don't like doing it, that is absolutely the last resort we use when it affects the public health and safety."
Bolander says there's several programs available to help rehab old buildings like Housman's...
Bolander: "I think with some of the grant opportunities nowadays, the brownfield grants, the historic preservation tax credits, this being a historic district, it opens up for reinvestment."
     There's no time frame on when the proposed contract between the city and the university will be presented to city council for approval.

 

Chris Warner
Reporter

A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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