The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 21, 2008

Tax credits key

By Debbie Robinson

news@joplinglobe.com

A desire for a small, public art gallery to display his tile murals grew into the purchase of the former Bagcraft building near 10th and Main streets, according to Paul Whitehill.

Today, he said, the project to renovate the building at 1027 S. Main St. has resulted in $6 million in tax credits for the $10 million project.

Whitehill, one of the three principal owners of the Joplin-based Images in Tile who are purchasing the building, said it took him about a year to learn about all of the available tax credits and loans for the project.

“When we put an option on this property, we didn’t know about these things,” he said. “It took us a year to find out.”

Whitehill was among about 60 people who gathered Thursday at the former Howsmon/Christman Building during the Discover Downtown event for a discussion on how to further renovate and develop downtown Joplin into a place where people want to shop and live.

Becky Brill, the city’s grants coordinator, outlined the city’s Community Development Block Grant program that provides up to $37,500 for revitalization of storefront facades.

To qualify for the grant money, the facade renovations must be to entrances that face the street and located in buildings that are open to the public, Brill said.

Grant money may be used for painting, window improvements, signs, awnings and lighting, she said.

Other speakers explained the benefits of owning property within a district that has been designated as a historic district, such as Joplin’s historic Sunshine Lamp District.

Jeff Neal of the Neal Group, which has restored downtown buildings such as the Columbia Traders building in the 400 block of South Main Street, said federal and state tax-credit programs can significantly reduce the cost of renovation of downtown buildings.

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