We get a first look inside the Olivia Building as restoration work continues

JOPLIN, Mo. – Nearly one year ago a fire broke out on the 5th floor of the historic Olivia Building in downtown Joplin. Work got underway a few months later to restore the building, and now, we’re taking you on an exclusive tour of the buil

ding and the progress made so far.

The lobby of the Olivia Building has seen better days, but it’s future, is now a lot brighter, thanks to a group of companies coming together to restore the building. The goal, to turn it into market-rate apartments, ranging from 1-3 bedrooms. Sawyer Smith is the Director of Business Development for Blue Haven Homes, and for their company, this project is, different. “Our business primarily deals with the restoration of old single-family homes so this was a big challenge and interesting project to try and take on something larger and more impactful than a single family home.”

Part of the impact he’s hoping for, improved downtown development. “We hope that it will bring more businesses to downtown, not just apartment complexes, shops, restaurants, stores.”

Jeff Neal and his wife Carolina are the co-owners of Neal Group Construction, the general contractor on this project. “We’re keeping a constant flow of a dumpster of material out of the building every day probably, sometimes it’s more sometimes it’s a little less.”

At the beginning of the project, they had more significant issues to overcome. “The biggest initial challenge of course was the moisture, that was still on-going when we first got in here, and it was damaging the entire structure, so, the big challenge was getting the roof on and then removing the waterlogged materials and at the same time ventilating the building to stop the growth of mold and other hazards.”

It’s a lot of work, five floors of walls and ceiling to be gutted out and hauled away, but there’s something that keeps the team going. “It’s a motivator to know that you’re putting something back together that’s an important part of people’s lives, there’s a huge number of people who lived here through their college years or whose parents brought them home to this building as babies and for 120 years this has been an important part of Joplin’s history.”

Rob Newsom is the Project Manager for the Olivia. There’s a number of gaps, missing and damaged items that will need to be taken care of as well. “There’s multiple pieces that will need to be replicated along the way, from the staircase to the exterior balconies, to the trim work in some of the doors inside of the building as well, so, in each aspect of the building there’s pieces that will need to be replicated or repaired.”

We stopped by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors to get a glimpse as to how things are coming along. “This would be the living space with a nice window out there and then your kitchen would be up against that far wall there.”

And while they’ve made quite a bit of progress, there’s still a long road ahead.

Smith says at this point they don’t have anything set in stone for an opening date, but are hopeful to be ready for tenants to move in by next fall.