Update: Community Cultural Arts Center at Memorial Hall Site

COMMUNITY CULTURAL ARTS CENTER AT MEMORIAL HALL SITE

Joplin, Missouri – On December 7, 2015 Connect2Culture (C2C) returned to Joplin City Council to discuss the future of Memorial Hall as a Community Cultural Arts Center.

C2C has been leading the Joplin community’s effort to develop much needed arts venues, bring attention to Joplin’s many cultural opportunities, and supporting the overall growth of the arts in Joplin.

On December 1, 2014, C2C, with support form the Boards of Spiva Center for the Arts, Pro Musica, and Downtown Joplin Alliance, sought approval from the Joplin City Council to “Explore the potential of the Memorial Hall site becoming a community cultural arts center.” The primary components of the cultural arts center will be community spaces, a 500-seat proscenium theater for community use, the location for Spiva Center for the Arts, and related meeting rooms, community arts office spaces, storage spaces, etc. The original proposal included both a Plan A and B. Plan A would utilize the existing structure of Memorial Hall, while Plan B would demolish the Hall and start from ground zero.

Thanks to the financial support of the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri and many Joplin businesses, corporations, and individuals, C2C was able to present architectural renderings of both Plan A and B developed by C2C’s engaged architects – Westlake, Reed, Leskosky of Cleveland, OH and Corner Greer and Associates of Joplin, MO.

Plan A

PLAN A (rendering shown above): Although capable of meeting the primary component needs previously mentioned, the C2C Board will not be pursuing Plan A. This decision is based upon broad citizen appeal that has developed over the past year for Memorial Hall to continue providing flexible event spaces for a larger number of attendees.

PLAN B (renderings shown below): The C2C Board unanimously supports the pursuit of a grand vision and new structure to be built in front of Memorial Hall. With this plan there will be necessary further developments, such as:

1.  The City garnering control of the SW corner of the present parking lot now owned by the State of Missouri.
2.  Agreements for the parking lot area now owned by the City for development of Plan B.
3.  Private capital funding for the construction project.
4.  Creating the business plan for the long-term ownership, management, and sustainability of the project between C2C and Spiva Center for the Arts.

A key element also remains – parking and development of the area surrounding both Memorial Hall and the potential new building as presented in Plan B. To accomplish this, the C2C Board will be seeking $15,000 in funding from the community to combine with its existing $5,000 in funds to pay for a Master Plan for an Arts, Entertainment, Education, and Historical District from 7th to 10th Streets, from the West side of Joplin Avenue to the East side of Wall Avenue.

The deliverables of the Master Plan based upon the Plan B new building and Memorial Hall will include:

1.  Addressing parking needs within the District.
2.  Preliminary schemes for improving Memorial Hall as a flexible event center.
3.  Master Plan design to support the District.

C2C’s goal is to complete the master plan work in the 1st quarter of 2016 and to begin Phase II capital campaign efforts as soon as possible thereafter with C2C’s consultants, The North Group of New York, NY. The final Phase III containing the fully developed project and the business plan would follow – targeted for the 3rd quarter of 2016.

Many might be asking – “what about Memorial Hall?” Thirty plus individuals from across the community recently gathered for a collaboration meeting regarding the cultural vision for Joplin and were asked about the potential use for a “big box” Memorial Hall within the “Arts, Entertainment, Education, and Historic District.” The top 5 ideas for Memorial Hall’s use as follows:

1.  Concerts
2.  Sports and Recreation Venue
3.  Convention and Exhibitors Space
4.  Community Events/Programs
5.  Indoor Famers Market

The proposed Plan B and Master Plan effort can move forward with the present-day Memorial Hall in place.  However, the present Memorial Hall structure limits the full capacity and capability of this site within an “Arts, Entertainment, Education, and Historic District.”  The current City Council, the immediately succeeding City Council, and the citizens of Joplin must seek a long-term solution for the usage and structure of Memorial Hall to maximize its potential for the future.

C2C’s Master Plan will help that effort and open up further dialogue on Memorial Hall. The citizens and their elected Council representatives must decide what investment is to be made into the present Memorial Hall site and how such investment would be funded and sustained. 

There is a great opportunity for the “Arts, Entertainment, Education, and Historic District” to become an important engine in the efforts to move Joplin forward and help grow our population to 55,000, 60,000, and beyond. Children, youth, and adults will benefit for generations to come from an invigorating cultural centerpiece to our community through multiple educational and experiential opportunities. Downtown businesses will see expanded economic activity, with such activity rippling throughout the community. Our front door on Route 66 will be a dynamic attraction leading tourists and citizens to the open, festival plaza and the entrance of Memorial Hall. Proven over and over again in communities across this country, the synergy of the area immediately adjoining the District will be revitalized and vastly improved. 

In closing, C2C believes in a grand vision for the Joplin arts and cultural community. On November 11, 2015, the Kansas City Business Journal announced that “The American Planning Association released its annual ’15 Great Places in America’ list, and Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District was included as a ‘Great Neighborhood.'” The association seeks out places that represent “exemplary character, quality, and planning” and have a “true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for tomorrow.” The association called the Crossroads a “vibrant hub of creativity and entrepreneurship” that’s home to hundreds of art-focused entities and tech startups. Other highlights mentioned include the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, First Fridays and the number of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Previous list makers include many neighborhoods located within St. Louis and Kansas City. It is C2C’s hope that the 2019 list-maker will be…The Downtown District – Joplin, MO.

To view C2C’s powerpoint presentation given to City Council on December 7, 2015, click here.