EDITORIAL: Kudos to DJA for taking on Union Depot challenge

Jan. 12—Three cheers for the Downtown Joplin Alliance and the work it is doing to resurrect Union Depot.

The latest effort was revealed Wednesday, during DJA's inaugural "Downtown Now," which will be a quarterly event.

Architectural students from the South Dakota State University School of Design have been invited to generate renderings to depict what the historic but long-neglected depot could look like if it were restored.

Joplin residents also will get a chance to offer ideas during a Union Depot Community Roundtable to be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at Chaos Brewing Event Center, 112 S. Main St. Those attending will be divided into small groups led by students from Kansas State University who will collect the local input and organize it into a presentable document.

These are sure to kick start interest in the depot, designed by Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss. It opened in 1911 as a passenger stop for the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and would be a downtown gem if it could be developed. Unfortunatley, it also was recently named one of Missouri's "Places in Peril" by the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation. The building has been vacant since 1969.

Lori Haun, executive director of the DJA, said the architectural designs could help a buyer or developer see the potential in the depot.

"It will show the feasibility of restoring it, it will show the gap analysis of what this building fits into as far as uses for it." she told the Globe .

Last fall, the DJA also released results of a structural analysis it had commissioned with a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that concluded it is still in good shape.

And in May, volunteers who are part of the DJA's Endangered Properties Program announced they were working with Joplin commercial real estate firm the Glenn Group to try to find someone to save the depot.

We are excited for the momentum downtown.

We are excited for the depot's future, knowing that an investor is out there.

And we are grateful for the aggressive attention given to the depot by the Downtown Joplin Alliance.

The DJA deserves a round of applause for its effort.