New businesses coming to downtown Joplin as renovations continue

JOPLIN, Mo. – While fall is certainly in the air in the four-states, change is in the air for part of downtown Joplin.

The east side of the 900 block of south Main houses a car dealership and Souls Harbor. Until recently, it also housed buildings that were not in good shape. Lori Haun says “Stuff that, kinda prohibited businesses to want to go in there or really even have an opportunity to go in there.”

Lori Haun with the Downtown Joplin Alliance is working on renovations with some of these buildings, some renovations are complete and others are still underway. In the complete sections, new businesses are now putting their personal touch on the interiors. Haun says while the renovations on the outside make the area look better, it’s the businesses on the inside that will truly enhance the block. “Just having activity on the street and businesses going in and people going into the businesses, all of that increases the perception of safety and the feeling of safety and just adds life and vibrancy to an area.”

Souls Harbor has been an anchor point in this block for many years. Dianna Gurley says they’d like to move off of Main Street to a new building to invite more businesses in, but, there’s a cost to that process. Gurley says “That’s about a $3 million bill.”

Gurley says they’ve looked at a number of options and even Lori Haun has feelers out to find a new home for Souls Harbor. One possible area would be near the existing location, just a few blocks east. “That would be really a good location because that still keeps us in line with Watered Gardens and Salvation Army and then it would be us, so we all would kind of be there in a line.”

Gurley says she’s hopeful someone will step up and help souls harbor find its new forever home. While building improvements are underway, there’s another issue, under city control, that needs to be addressed.

In the early 2000s, the city streetscaped Main from 1st to 8th. Following the tornado, disaster grants funded improvements from 15th to 32nd, leaving a gap of unattractive road that City Manager Nick Edwards says they’re hoping to address. Edwards says “Certainly, I don’t want to make a promise that we can find the funding, but we are aggressively looking for any dollars that are out there that we can use to help deliver that streetscape project.”

Edwards says another funding option could be a renewal of the capital improvement sales tax, which, would include a number of other projects in addition to Main Street.