Endangered Properties Program

The Downtown Joplin Alliance has a new tool that allows us to be proactive in making something happen with long vacant, underutilized and distressed properties. Our mission is centered around our downtown’s historic buildings and finding adaptive reuse for them, but we are excited to introduce the Endangered Properties Program.

The core of this program centers around a “revolving fund” which is used for various stages of saving a building. Preservation Revolving Funds are an old preservation tool. They began in the 1960s in Providence RI, Pittsburgh PA, Savannah GA, and most revolving funds are in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. There are about 100 Revolving Funds across the nation.

When the Housmon building roof collapsed in 2018, the organization became acutely aware of the need to get involved earlier on vacant and underutilized historic properties. We were also aware of the need for funds to stabilize and market those buildings. Having been introduced to the 1772 Foundation at an earlier conference, we completed a feasibility study with initial $20,000 grant in 2019 from that foundation. Results of that study showed that our organization has the capacity to create effective change with a revolving fund and that Joplin has many properties that could use an intervention. 

With that study in hand, we applied for and received $100,000 for the corpus of a revolving fund through the 1772 foundation. Basic idea is that our organization would take neglected properties (either through donation or an option) and spend some time and money to assess its needs and best uses. Ie: environmental assessment, structural assessment, architect’s renderings, feasibility study, etc–to answer the unknown questions. Then we market the property with all the information we’ve amassed including its proposed use, and any available tax credits and local incentives, to make an attractive, feasible package for developers nationwide. 

Upon successfully finding a developer, the property is sold and (hopefully) the expenses are recouped from the sale to return to the revolving fund. The property may be sold with covenants attached that require development in a certain timeframe, that certain features and attributes be retained, or that it is developed for specific purposes. 

A good way to think of it as the “humane society” for unwanted buildings. In showing historic buildings to interested parties, there are always the same questions: What’s that crack in the wall? What about asbestos and lead paint? What should this property even be? With this program, we can answer these questions up front and create a much more attractive package for prospective developers.

AND, we can intervene BEFORE a roof caves in and before the city has to get involved and spend taxpayer money on tearing a building down. 

Some buildings that our committee is considering include The Olivia, Carnegie Library, and Joplin Transfer Station. 

EPP Committee:

Carolina Neal (NGC, Inc)

Scott Sullivan (Liberty Utilities)

Jill Sullivan (Post Art Library)

We are excited to be able to add this to our toolbox and to begin seeing some of these long-abandoned properties alive with businesses and residents again and creating even more vitality for our city.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating to this program, or if you have a building you’d like us to consider, let us know!

Contact Lori Haun to learn more at [email protected], or 417 529 3888.


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