Partnership announced to begin Union Depot marketing

JOPLIN, Mo.–Joplin’s Union Depot used to be unlike any other train station of its time, but it’s been vacant for over 50 years, and just last year was placed on Missouri’s places in peril list. But there are efforts to preserve and revitalize the building. 

On Wednesday, The Downtown Joplin Alliance, the State Historic Preservation Office of Missouri, and the Glenn group, a Joplin-based real-estate firm, announced a partnership to save the building. Now, they are searching for a developer to determine the future of the building.

“It seems particularly appropriate that we are making this announcement today in May because May is historic preservation month. So this kicks off historic preservation month very nicely for Joplin,” said Executive Director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance, Lori Haun. 

Union Depot, which has sat empty in downtown Joplin for over fifty years. The building itself is a part of Missouri’s history. After opening in 1911, the depot serviced the Kansas City Southern, Missouri-Kansas-texas, as well as the Santa Fe railroads.

“It’s been here for over 100 years and people in the community have seen it sit empty since 1969 when the last train left the depot,” said Jill Sullivan, a member of the Endangered Properties program committee and  Executive Director of the Post Art Library. “I mean generations of preservationists and community members have been helpful to see something happen with the building and it’s pretty amazing that it’s just still there to begin with, that it survived urban renewal and other things that have happened over the decades in the city. And we’ve lost a lot of our historic buildings. But with Union Depot, it’s a very innovative building, it’s architecturally stunning, and the architectural design that Louis Curtis is known as the Frank Lloyd Wright of Kansas City. So it’s very significant in that.”

Now there are efforts underway, to bring new life to the building while preserving its historic significance.

“The depot is a perfect example of how preservation isn’t just about saving buildings. It’s about saving the stories of all the people who are affiliated with the building and with something like a train depot.”

In order to revitalize, the group will need to find a developer, and that’s where the Glenn Group comes in.

“We are going to be marketing it on a national as well as a local level to commercial real estate developers. We’re kind of the first step in communication with these people within the vetting process,” said Luke Gibson with the Glenn Group. 

Gibson said they’re looking for people who have experience with a building like this. 

“We will target, preservation specialists, people who have worked in this field before and have experience because we want to make sure that the person taking on this project is able to do it,” Gibson said. 

For now, it’s a waiting game, to see what will actually become of the building.

“It’d probably be some sort of mixed-use and commercial, obviously, in that location. but we’re kind of just leaving a wide-open,” said Haun. 

Haun said they will market the building through their endangered properties program, to promote it to potential developers.

The building is already on some national listings, and the Glenn group has started to roll out its marketing on social media.