The company interested in developing the Olivia building in Joplin was denied state tax credits today, and the historic structure may not survive much longer, the CEO of the development group warned.
In a statement today, J. David Dodson, CEO OF St. Louis-based Bywater Development Group, said: " ... this morning we received the heartbreaking news that the Olivia Building was not approved by MHDC for an allocation of housing tax credits. We know that MHDC has to balance many factors in their determinations, and an award of housing tax credits is always very competitive, with MHDC receiving four or five applications for every one that is able to be funded. It is not uncommon to be denied in one year and be approved on resubmission the following year. But the Olivia Building may not be able to survive another year waiting for MHDC’s next application round. We fear that what the fire could not destroy, this decision may now have unintentionally done."
The Olivia, at the corner of Fourth Street and Moffet Avenue, was damaged by a fire on Dec. 7.
Bywater submitted applications to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) for Affordable Housing Tax Credits, and to Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) for historic tax credits.
Dodson said, "All along we have known that it would take this combination of financial tools to achieve feasibility for the development."
He also said that during the months they have worked on the project, they "have been so impressed with the commitment and support of the city of Joplin, and the many community leaders and stakeholders that have stepped forward to make sure that MHDC and DED elevate the importance of the Olivia Building to the highest possible degree."
"Our team has also fallen in love with the Olivia Building, just as have so many before us, and we have come to assume a great sense of responsibility to the Joplin community to do everything possible to save this architectural jewel. So, our hearts sank, along with yours, when we saw the images of the Dec. 7 fire in the building. We initially assumed this fire signaled the end of the effort to save the building. However, after conducting inspections, seeking input from our contractors, and receiving the assessment of the structural engineer engaged by Downtown Joplin Alliance, we made the decision to continue to move forward, and have redoubled our efforts. Along with our efforts, many elected officials, city representatives, and community and economic development organizations sprang into immediate and sustained action to make sure that MHDC and DED were made aware that our rehabilitation plan remained viable after the fire and was strongly supported by the community. We can honestly say that the outpouring of support following the fire may be the single most impressive community response that we’ve witnessed in our years of work. The entire Joplin community should be proud of those efforts."