A nearly century-old gas station in Joplin, Missouri, envisioned as a Route 66 visitors center instead may be torn down, partly because city councilors are balking at the site’s rehabilitation costs, according to the Joplin Globe.
Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau director Patrick Tuttle wanted the property at 1109-1111 Langston Hughes-Broadway to be converted into a Route 66 visitors center and perhaps eventually into a future home of the bureau. The city bought the property last year for $23,000.
But an inspection of the building — which was cited as a nuisance because of its dilapidated state — revealed fully renovating it would be difficult:
“I believe the intent is probably to demolish it,” Jeff Oliver, a Joplin building inspector, said in response to Globe questions. “Could it be saved? It would take a lot of work to save it. I don’t know that’s the best route, in my opinion.” […]
“They are working on plans to rebuild or save it. But I do believe the intent is to take that one down, maybe save some of the rocks and reuse them” in a new structure at the site, Oliver said.
Oliver, when asked what problems there are with the building, said, “There are some cracks in the walls; however, those cracks are not necessarily in the part of the structure that would hold it up. There would be a lot of rehab involved to get it back up to our code. It’s not necessarily just going to fall over, but there would be a lot of work done to save it.” He said he did not know how much that would cost.
The city council earlier in the month barely approved a CVB proposal to hire an architect to provide conceptual designs for the visitors center and offer cost estimates. Many councilors balked at spending more tax money on the site. One councilor called the site a “money pit” and suggested another gas station on Seventh Street that has more traffic.
Tuttle advocated the visitors center because nearby Kansas contains several Route 66 businesses and sites that encourage tourists to stop. Joplin, however, contains relatively few attractions.
A researcher a year ago determined the garage was an auto repair shop as far back as 1920. It sits on an early alignment of Route 66.