The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

February 4, 2013

Joplin City Council approves first redevelopment project

JOPLIN, Mo. — A decision by the Joplin City Council authorizing a resolution of intent to move forward with the first of $806 million in tornado redevelopment projects and an agreement to provide a new $25 million building for the Joplin Public Library drew applause from supporters on Monday night and celebratory remarks by proponents.

Leslie Jones, the city’s finance director, told the council that the city staff recommended approval of the resolution of intent, a measure needed to ensure further consideration of a $20 million grant from the Economic Development Administration toward the cost of the library. The city would provide $5 million in financing and property as the matching money for the deal. It is tied to the construction of a $13 million movie theater on the second floor of the building, making the project cost a total of $38 million.

Bonds issued in connection with the newly created tax increment financing district would pay for the construction beyond that provided by the federal grant. The city would lease the theater space, and the TIF bonds would be paid off by lease payments. The entire project would be owned by the city, but the city’s credit would not be used, the City Council was told.

Councilman Bill Scearce said the library originally was projected to cost $20 million, and he asked why the cost had increased to $25 million.

David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s contracted master developer, said the original proposal was based on a smaller library size. He said that after consultations with the library director and board, the size was enlarged. He said the EDA also wanted some additional streetscape work included that added to the cost.

Councilman Mike Seibert asked if Joplin could support two movie theaters, the proposed new one and the existing Hollywood Theaters Northstar 14 near Northpark Mall.

Wallace said that looking strictly at demographics, Joplin itself could support the sale of 200,000 tickets a year, but the sales at the existing theater are 600,000 a year, attributed to the city’s attraction as a regional entertainment hub. Additionally, a theater could be used for corporate and community events, such as broadcasting a big football game when local teams travel.

City Attorney Brian Head said that if the council authorized the resolutions, there could not be any changes as there were when the council voted to remove the 15th Street viaduct project from a $12 million federal highway grant.

“If we get this EDA grant, you will issue the TIF debt,” Head said. “There’s no second-guessing. This is a very important vote on this issue. You’re giving assurance to a federal entity that you will go ahead” with the project.

Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean asked if the city has sufficient insurance to do the property transactions that will be required. The land will have to be purchased by the Joplin Redevelopment Corp., which last week hit a snag when it learned it was not covered by the city’s public risk and liability insurance. Head said he thought he would have that resolved in a few days. Additionally, the agreement requires the library to transfer ownership of the land at its existing site at Fourth and Main streets to the city when it moves to the new building.

The council passed both resolutions with eight votes in favor and one councilman, Jack Golden, absent.

Members of the audience who worked with the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team gave a round of applause to the council votes.

“This is really a big step in implementing the economic development sector part of the plan,” said Jane Cage, the team chairwoman who led the formation of a plan for recovery from the 2011 tornado based on community input. “The plan called for a multi-use anchor project on 20th Street, so this fits that bill perfectly.”

Wallace said his firm has been working the EDA weekly to develop a plan that would result in the grant approval. He said the resolutions “are extremely important as they complete the application” for the grant. “We’re hopeful the EDA will make a decision within the next 30 days.”

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May 2011 Joplin tornado
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    June 11, 2014

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    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

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    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

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    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

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    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

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    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

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    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

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    April 9, 2014

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