A hotly debated issue silenced by the tornado of 2011, the restoration of Joplin’s Union Depot has quietly started to filter back into the conversation of the city’s future. While the previous discussion was focused on turning the depot into a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex, an idea that the governing boards of the JMC were reluctantly being dragged toward accepting, the new round of talks has removed the JMC from the equation. SPARK is the word now, “Stimulating Progress through Arts, Recreation and Knowledge of the Past,” which is part of the current plan by the city and Wallace Bajjali Development Partners to turn north downtown Joplin into a center for arts and recreation.
As recent articles in the Globe have stated, the new plan for the Union Depot is to renovate it as a home for restaurants, not for the museum. In the current budget of the Master Plan, the city voted in late December, 2012, for the creation of a TIF district which would pay for some of the redevelopment projects, to set aside “$68 million for a performing and visual arts center and Union Depot restoration…” If you were wondering about the JMC, in the same process, money was planned to build a completely new museum home which would be somewhere in the vicinity of north Main Street.
Here at Historic Joplin, while we championed the move of the JMC to the depot, we are just as satisfied with this new idea so long as its implemented and one of Joplin’s most valuable architectural jewels is preserved for future generations.