By Debby Woodin
Joplin’s master developer for tornado recovery, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, is opening a Joplin office and has hired four people to conduct operations, said David Wallace, the firm’s chief executive officer.
Gary Box will head up the firm’s economic development work. He will be project manager for the Joplin office. Box has been the business retention and expansion coordinator at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Before that, he was employed by the Workforce Investment Board and was manager of Priority Personnel. He also is a former Joplin police officer.
Christine Bryant, who has been employed as membership director of the chamber, will be the projects coordinator. She has been with the chamber about 2 1/2 years. She previously worked as an account representative with Express Personnel and at KODE-TV.
Real estate acquisition and housing programs will be handled by Bruce Anderson, senior vice president at Mid-Missouri Bank, and Karen Love, a mortgage lender. Anderson said he has resigned his position at the bank effective Sept. 4 to take the job with the master developer. He has experience as a real estate broker as well as a banker. He has served 12 years on the Joplin Planning and Zoning Commission and is currently commission chairman.
Love has been a mortgage lender for 25 years and has been employed at Missouri Capital Finance.
Crossland Construction Co. has been employed in connection with Wallace Bajjali’s interests in the construction of projects. A member of that company also will be assigned to the master developer’s Joplin office, Wallace said.
Wallace said the firm is working on all 19 projects previously outlined for the city of Joplin, including several types of housing, a performing and visual arts complex, and a new library. He said the firm will assemble 8,000 pieces of land for the projects, which will be purchased through a city board, the Joplin Redevelopment 353 Corp. The 19 projects would cost nearly $800 million if they all were constructed.
“We will need parcels of all sizes, 10 acres, 20 acres, and will ultimately be selling the land to individual homeowners or single purpose entities for an office or mixed-use development,” Wallace said.
Work has begun on securing funding for the land acquisitions.
Wallace has said $30 million is needed to buy land. The city has allocated $8 million in federal Community Development grant money for the project.
Wallace, along with a delegation of Joplin city and economic development leaders, on Tuesday made a presentation to the Missouri Development Finance Board in Jefferson City regarding the status of Joplin’s recovery and needs.
Wallace said that at the presentation, “The board indicated it would like to help Joplin, and so what we wanted to do is to educate them on where we stand and work with the board to come up with different ways to assist Joplin from a capital perspective to help fund some of the public-private partnership projects.”
That board administers a number of programs that might provide financing assistance for the projects. “They offer tax credit programs where they can provide certain guarantees of debt,” Wallace said. “They have cash to provide grants. So there are a myriad of ways they can help. It’s too early to tell what tools they would be willing to use” for Joplin projects.
He acknowledged that the tax credit program might be one source for the $22 million needed for the land bank transactions, but he said no request has been made.
The city of Joplin has hired Tony Robyn as disaster recovery coordinator. It is a position funded by the federal Economic Development Administration for two years.
City Planner Troy Bolander said Robyn’s primary duties will be helping to organize and implement the projects in the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team plan, which the Wallace firm is developing. Robyn formerly was the executive director of the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, and Audubon Missouri.
Date and location
THE NEW OFFICE will be open about Sept. 1 in the Gryphon Building, 1027 S. Main St.