Ideas emerge for the redevelopment of Joplin’s Union Depot

Community members recently brought up some ideas for the possible redevelopment of Union Depot in Joplin, Missouri, including bringing back train rides.

The Downtown Joplin Alliance asked about 80 residents to provide possible uses for the century-old building, reported the Joplin Globe.

A group of students and faculty from Kansas State University and architectural students from South Dakota State University’s School of Design also helped gather information about Union Depot.

The depot recently was judged as structurally sound but will deteriorate without some sort of intervention.

A few of the ideas for the depot:

Among the most popular ideas given at the community input session were to use the depot for some type of tourism or destination venue such as one that would bring train rides back for passenger service, excursions or even have a children’s ride there.

Use of the depot property as a hub for walking and biking trails and connectivity to other trails won the support of many who attended the session.

There was much agreement that there should be multiuse functions for the building. Those could include a food hall or food court with indoor and outdoor seating, retail spaces and art studios. In addition, a boutique hotel had support.

Other suggestions included creating a venue for different types of popular music or local music performances and patio dining with outdoor lawn games. All of those uses could be part of a downtown hotel at the depot, one resident said.

Renderings of a renovated Union Depot will be presented in April, based on the feedback given.

Joplin Union Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places 50 years ago, the first structure in the city to earn that designation.

The depot has been vacant for more than 50 years. In 2021, it was listed on Missouri’s “Places in Peril”  by the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation.

Joplin Union Depot is off North Main Street (aka bypass Route 66 from the 1930s to 1955) and West A Street on the city’s north side.

The Broadway alignment of Route 66 also runs just south of the property.

(Image of Joplin Union Depot in Joplin, Missouri, by Kelly via Flickr)

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