Every once in a while, someone comes along with a vision that is hard to ignore. Kate (Moss) DeGraff has come up with such a vision. If she succeeds, and she seems determined to do so, her vision will be a game changer for the 900 block of South Main Street.

The plan is to build two structures with three lofts on top of each structure and commercial spaces at street level. The buildings would be separated by a courtyard. Parking would be at the rear of the buildings. The plan was unveiled months ago.

“It was full steam ahead until the virus hit,” DeGraff said. “Now, we are looking at early next year, maybe in March or April.”

DeGraff said she consulted with a friend of the family, David Glenn, a commercial real estate agent with ReeceNichols Joplin, about finding a site to build downtown for her business, KM GURU Marketing. Not much was available.

When she saw the vacant lots on the west side of the 900 block of South Main, she asked, “What’s up with this grass here?” She now owns three lots — 906, 912 and 914 S. Main.

The lots were home to two significant commercial buildings that survived from the earliest days of Joplin — the 1900 Rains Brothers Building and the 1914 Carl Adams Building. The first was destroyed by fire in 2012. The second collapsed a short time later. The lots have been grassy since then.

DeGraff said the concept of two buildings separated by a courtyard was influenced by a 10-year stint living in California. She wanted to create an outdoor space where people could gather.

“I already have had inquiries about the commercial space that will be available,” she said. “It would be great to have a bistro that could be connected to the courtyard for outdoor dining.”

Details about this development are available online by searching for the Moss-DeGraff Building. The project, she said, was named “after both sides of the family.”

The historic buildings on the east side of the 900 block of South Main, including the Willard Hotel, are undergoing restoration. DeGraff said she is upbeat about that and other things that are happening in downtown Joplin, including the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex.

About the concept, Glenn said, “This is a cool project. I love it because she has the guts to build in the 900 block of Main Street. I admire her for that.”

Source: The Joplin Globe | August 29, 2020 | Wally Kennedy