Endangered Properties Program

The Downtown Joplin Alliance is proud to have a 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 by the possibilities of 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. 

After a successful first project with the Olivia Apartments, other buildings that our committee are currently working on include the Joplin Union Depot and the Carnegie Library.

EPP Committee:

Carolina Neal (NGC, Inc)

Luke Gibson (Glenn Group)

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.

Dr. Sabine Martin worked closely with Lori Haun (Executive Director of Downtown Joplin Alliance) and Joplin Mayor Doug Lawson and staff to coordinate appropriate logistics technical assistance.

The SDSU SoD, as a TAB partner, provided site inventory and ideation in the form of generating images to capture potential reuse ideas for the Historic Union Depot and its surrounding property based on community input.

The City of Joplin is interested in revitalizing the Historic Union Depot which has sat empty since the last train departed the station in 1969. According to Joplin’s application for technical assistance, “several attempts have been made to re-purpose and rehab the facility, (but) nothing has come to fruition.” The application describes the situation as follows: 

The community generally loves the building and understands its value, but after years of vacancy and multiple failed starts, the Depot has started to feel hopeless to the community.

 Our organization has recently partnered with Mo DNR and a local commercial real estate firm to be able to list and market the property. While we’ve had inquires and interest in the property, we are working to create a detailed package to share with developers that will help them understand the potential and the community needs and desires for the property.

The building is unusual and doesn’t really fit the typical loft over retail conversions we’ve seen in recent years in downtown. As downtown has recently had significant investment and revitalization, we think it is time that a project at the depot can be successful, but are not sure exactly what will be the best fit for the location and space.

There’s also an adjacent 12 acres that could be purchased to add to a larger development that might include townhouses, apartments, hotel, etc. Ultimately, if we could come up with a concept that could then have a request for proposal and/or feasibility planning done, that would go a long way towards a prospective investor understanding the project potential.


Learn more about getting involved in the health and preservation of the downtown community!



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Historic Preservation

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