The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 16, 2013

Master developer plans project at 26th and Main

By Debby Woodin

JOPLIN, Mo. — A loft-over-retail center and a grocery store are planned by the city’s contracted master developer for property at the northwest corner of 26th and Main streets that has been purchased by the Joplin Redevelopment Corp.

The location was the site of the Salvation Army store that was destroyed by the 2011 tornado. According to a disclosure notice posted Tuesday by the city, the site has been purchased for $600,000.

David Wallace, chief executive officer of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners of Sugar Land, Texas, said the entire 2500 block of Main Street has been purchased and additional properties are being sought for the project, listed in city documents as being located at 2502 S. Main St.

“We have a sufficient mass for a development that I think Joplin residents will be proud of,” Wallace said of the plans for the location.

The JRC, also known as the 353 Commission, met Tuesday to hear an update on the status of the master development projects. After the session, the panel met in closed session to buy more land. Wallace said the board approved about 35 contracts worth a total of $2.5 million to $3 million.

The JRC and the city, citing a provision in the state open records law, keep purchase approvals confidential until the transactions have been completed.

About $3.4 million had been paid out as of Monday for land acquisitions, according to an income statement issued Tuesday to the JRC.

That amount does not include properties committed for purchases that have not yet been completed.

Wallace told the JRC that he remains optimistic that a $20 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration will come through. The EDA has not yet announced a decision. The money is intended to be used to build a new Joplin Public Library at 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue.

The library will share a two-story building with a 15-screen theater. The lease for the theater space will help pay for other projects.

Wallace said a loft-over-retail center is to be built next to the theater, with a grocery store planned to anchor the retail complex. His firm is negotiating with four grocery store chains for the site, he said, with one of them interested in building a 95,000-square-foot store. “This would be the biggest store in their chain. They’re looking to make a big splash in Joplin,” Wallace said of the prospect.

Part of the land for the library, about 6.5 acres, has been leased from family members of the late Bob Jennings for 99 years, with options to buy the land in the future starting in 15 years. The lease payments are $13,916 a month.

Wallace previously said the agreement to lease the land was made because the Jennings family has estate and tax reasons to continue to hold it.

Wallace told the JRC on Tuesday that every piece of land it is asked to buy will be related to a project rather than for speculative purposes. He said independent appraisers are used to establish the value of the land, and the banks lending the money for projects review those appraised values to make sure they are reasonable.

“Everybody has an opinion as it relates to the value of a piece of property, so we must use the independent appraisals,” Wallace said.

Another project in the works, the Principal Reduction Plan housing project, was approved Monday by the City Council. Wallace said six or seven builders and 13 banks have agreed to participate. The program will allow qualified homebuyers to accrue $40,000 in equity over five years in order to keep their payments at about $450 per month on a $140,000 house.

“It’s a way we can encourage people to live here from an economic development standpoint,” Wallace told the JRC. He will ask the JRC in August to start buying building lots for that program, and 200 will be assembled. Buyers will select their lots and choose their builders.

Senior housing

THE JOPLIN REDEVELOPMENT CORP. has purchased several tracts near 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard for construction of a gated senior housing complex that will include patio homes, assisted living and memory care.