A building at the corner of 7th and Rangeline streets is familiar to many as a former Ryan's buffet restaurant, and, most recently, a Japanese restaurant. A storage shed company has its office in only the front of this building. Now, there's a proposal for a new health grocery store inside this seemingly healthy, already-built structure.
"It looks good. Looks usable," says Joplin resident Daniele Clark.
But that's the problem. Developers behind the proposed new grocery store, part of a national chain called Natural Grocers, want Joplin city council to declare this building blighted, or unusable.
"I don't consider Seventh and Rangeline blighted," says Joplin City Councilman Gary Shaw.
Shaw was against the idea. Having the building declared blighted by city council would allow, under Missouri state law, a new sales tax at the possible new store.
"This is no obligation to Joplin. Joplin is not putting up any money. We're not going to be out any money, or anything," says Shaw.
The proposed new one-cent sales tax would only apply to shoppers at Natural Grocers, and would be used by the grocery store to cover costs of renovating the building.
"I don't think that's right," says Clark. "If they want to open a business, they should pay for their own business."
Councilman Shaw changed his mind and now supports this measure, ever since he learned that having only a building being declared blighted, not necessarily an entire area, would still follow state law. While Shaw hasn't been inside this building recently, he has looked over a study done by the proposed project's developer.
"It's a report that it's unsafe in some areas, and it has deteriorated, it has aged in some areas," says Shaw.
The building has been vacant for about two years. Shaw says a new sales tax is worth getting a new business in town. But some residents still say it's still a tax.
"We don't need another tax. It's never good to have more taxes," says Joplin resident Hayden Heikkila.
We asked an attorney representing Natural Grocers to tell us how the company thought the inside of this building is blighted. That attorney hasn't returned our phone call.
Councilman Shaw says this proposed new sales tax would last 20 years, or once revenue reached $990,000, the cost of renovating this building.
This proposal goes to second and third readings at the next city council meeting and could be outright passed at that meeting.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas