The Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau stated last week it likely would sell a 1920s-era garage it once considered renovating into a Route 66 visitors center.
The city in 2014 purchased the garage at 1109 Broadway (aka Route 66) and several adjoining lots for $18,500. The city spent nearly $5,000 more to repair the structure’s roof. A researcher determined the garage was an auto repair shop as far back as 1920.
The Joplin Globe explained why the garage-turned-visitors-center idea was abandoned:
However, after roof repairs were made to stabilize the old garage, the project was delayed at the direction of a former public works director who wanted to wait on a comprehensive plan to be put together for redevelopment of Broadway and the East Town neighborhood. That has not been completed.
Since then, the CVB commissioned a regional tourism study that was finished and presented to the city a year ago.
The report by Design Workshop of Aspen, Colorado, favored a visitor center at the CVB office at City Hall or on Range Line near Interstate 44. The report said that a Broadway location would be a low-visibility site compared with those locations.
City councilors in 2015 also balked at the cost of rehabbing the site.
At the time of the purchase, Joplin CVB director Patrick Tuttle said the city felt like it needed to step up its Route 66 tourism options.
There is a concrete floor where the office once stood that could be cleaned, repaired and converted into a sitting area for visitors, perhaps with a flower garden area planted at one side.
A concrete block wall on the side of the garage could become a canvas for a mural or a backdrop for artwork of some kind related to Route 66. […]
“People travel Route 66 and they just fly through Joplin. They don’t have a lot of reasons to stop, other than food and gas. We want to give them more reasons to do so,” Tuttle said. “The more they stop in town, the more likely they are to hit our shops, hit our restaurants, hit our hotels, spend more time.
“You look at Cherokee County over in Kansas, 13 miles, the shortest distance (of the highway) of any through eight states, and they have several gift shops, several attractions. You look at Jasper County, there’s one visitor center and one gift shop, and we’ve got 50 miles of Route 66.”
The Joplin city council on Monday will be asked to declare the garage and adjoining lots as surplus property, thus clearing the way for them to be auctioned.
(Excerpted image of the 1920s-era garage at 1109 Broadway in Joplin, Missouri, via Google Street View)