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Construction Crews Work to Restore Mall School to Retail Space;R - KOAM TV 7

Construction Crews Work to Restore Mall School to Retail Space;Realtor says Big Box Space Sold

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Joplin, MO -

  Just as demolition of the former Joplin senior high school at Northpark mall gets underway, there's word that the big box store space it occupied has been sold.

     Kimco Realty says it’s sold its part of the school which before the tornado had once housed a Shopko store.

     But the realtor is not saying who bought it. Until that’s revealed,  work  is being done now to bring it back to retail space.

Pro X Construction crews are pulling out plumbing from a classroom that had sinks. That and electrical systems are their biggest challenge in turning the former temporary Joplin senior high school back into big box retail stores. 

Pro X Construction superintendent Dennis Millies says,   "Definitely the most complicated thing is going to be separating all the electrical and mechanical.  This is two separate spaces here and when the schools moved in they've combined them to one."

Tyler Casey, managing member at Pro X says, "Most of that stuff is going to be subcontracted  to local providers who are experts in electrical,  plumbing and hvac."

Demolition work now  means taking down walls, removing unneeded circuit breakers, and eventually removing carpet and painting the exterior to be completed by September 8th.

The demolition will cost about $380 thousand dollars. Turning the space into a school cost five and half million dollars but both expenditures are re-reimbursable from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency.

Paul Barr. Chief financial officer at Joplin schools says,   "We act as the bank so to speak by paying one hundred percent. We submit our invoices and claims to FEMA per the procedures and request back eighty-five  percent from FEMA and SEMA. It’s actually seventy-five percent FEMA,  ten percent SEMA,   to equal the eighty-five percent." 

The district has been paying rent on both spaces. Forty-one thousand dollars a month for the box store space and another eleven thousand dollars for mall space. But the rent is also to be reimbursed by the government.

But working with government agencies to approve a mechanical engineer and  to plan the remodel along with  rules for bidding and hiring contractors,  on the surface, seems to stretch out the  process. Mike Johnson, Joplin schools facilities director says,  "If we miss one of those steps, we don’t get reimbursed.  So you really got to dot your i's and cross your t's. And from FEMA’s  perspective we're working at the speed of light." Recovering from disaster and to make it ready for retail.

        While officials with KIMCO realty say it has  sold the big box part of the former mall  school, the  Jasper County recorder of deeds has not yet received documentation.

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