JOPLIN, Mo. — A planned $80 million dollar development in Joplin has several connections to Lake of the Ozarks.

Lake of the Ozarks developer Gary Prewitt is looking for Tax Increment Financing as he plans the development. Arapaho LLC, in which Prewitt and family are listed as principals, has filed an application with the city of Joplin to seek a TIF for the development on East 32nd Street. If all goes as planned, it would be the future site of the Menards home improvement store and a Wobbly Boots restaurant, as well as a new movie theater, restaurants and retail stores. Prewitt has built shopping centers in Lake Ozark and Osage Beach—The Shoppes at Eagles' Landing and Prewitt's Point, respectively—and also owns Shady Gators bar and the adjacent Lazy Gators on Lake of the Ozarks.

The Shoppes at Eagles' Landing includes a Menards, a Kohl's store, a Marcus Theaters cinema, a Buffalo Wild Wings, and a CVS. Marcus Theaters has movie theaters in eight Midwestern states. It has eight theaters in addition to the Lake Ozark site in cities such as St. Charles, Chesterfield and Cape Girardeau.

Prewitt's Point Shopping Center in Osage Beach includes a Hy-Vee grocery store, Target, Marshalls and HomeGoods store, and Lowe's Home Improvement, as well as several restaurants and other stores. It was Gary Prewitt's first development project.

Much of the land under contract for the project, which is east of Range Line Road along Hammons Boulevard, was part of the John Q. Hammons Trust holdings. That's a familiar name at Lake of the Ozarks, as Hammons had grand plans for a 15-story, $100 million Lakefront hotel/resort, even obtaining a TIF from the city of Osage Beach. A lawsuit by a neighboring resort snarled the project plans, and then Hammons died, and the project never happened.

The development would be called Boomtown Central Shopping Center and would be built in two phases, according to the TIF documents obtained from the city through an open records request. Menards would be constructed in the first phase.

The proposed site for Boomtown Central takes in some vacant land along both sides of Hammons Boulevard. The developer has already purchased the property of the BKD accounting office at 3220 Hammons Blvd. BKD will move to another location, according to the application. It also would take in 3 acres of the 60 acres owned by Victory Ministry & Sports Complex, 3405 Hammons Blvd.

Arapaho has about 45 acres of the original John Q. Hammons property that is unused in that area under contract. That does not include the former Hammons or Joplin Convention and Trade Center site, 3535 Hammons Blvd. The trade center closed in March.

Menards, the nation's third-largest home improvement store, had considered a site in the Hope Valley TIF district at 44th Street and Range Line Road. Company spokesman Jeff Abbott said Thursday that the company is no longer interested in that site. Menards has committed to locate in the new development, as have a multiscreen movie theater and a restaurant chain, Wobbly Boots BBQ, according to city documents.

The economic development impact when the project is operating is estimated at 160 jobs from the first phase, mostly at Menards, and 225 jobs in the second phase. It is estimated that sales could amount to about $102 million a year, producing about $3.7 million in new sales tax revenue a year.

The Joplin City Council will consider an agreement with the Prewitt company at its meeting Monday in which the developer commits to pay a deposit on the city's costs to review the TIF application. That agreement does not authorize the TIF, which would require further hearings before the city's TIF Commission and the council if it moves forward.

Property costs for the proposed development are about $8 million, according to the TIF application. In order to qualify for TIF financing, state law requires a finding that the property is either blighted, a candidate for tax base conservation or an economic development area.

"The proposed TIF area is most definitely blighted," the developer's application states. "An expert will be hired to examine the property and complete a full blight analysis to confirm blight on the property. A portion of the property is currently being used as a trash dump and another portion of the property is being used as a homeless encampment."

Under state law, a property also can be declared blighted when it is not producing optimal tax revenue.

A TIF collects half of the new sales taxes generated by the commercial center for up to 23 years to repay the costs of building infrastructure such as streets, which the city otherwise would have to provide.

The plan estimates the total construction costs, including site work and streets, at more than $80.3 million and estimates that about $21.5 million of that would be reimbursable by the TIF assistance.

Construction start

A timeline for the Boomtown Central Shopping Center projects a construction start this year with completion of the two-phase project in 2024.


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