JOPLIN, Mo. — Whether you live in Joplin, or you visit the city on the weekend, you’re likely to stick around the Range Line business district on the city’s east side, more than any other section of the city. Most of Joplin’s businesses and restaurants are located along Range Line Road, which forces many of the city’s residents on the east side of town to travel across town to eat or shop. This is also the case for those who travel to Joplin from Kansas and Oklahoma.

With the Range Line business district becoming more crowded, and the price of land there continuing to increase, it’s possible developers are looking to West 7th street for new construction. Troy Bolander, the Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Services for the City of Joplin, says the addition of two new businesses along West 7th Street (old Route 66) could mean more new businesses may decide to follow suit and build on the west side of Joplin.

“You’re starting to see some new additions to that part of town. KFC recently opened up which is a new fast food option. Starbucks will soon open at the intersection of 7th Street and Maiden Lane, so we’re starting to see some interest in building on the city’s west side, which includes national brands that are developing in that location,” said Bolander.

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One of the highlights of Joplin’s west end is the historic Route 66 — also known as West 7th Street. Because Route 66 is one of the highlights of this part of Joplin, Bolander says there are many who may be reluctant to big changes made to this part of the city.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t necessarily want to see a lot of construction and big national chains built along the original Route 66 — the Mother Road of America. They want to visit the small, unique local businesses and attractions that can’t be found anywhere else. They want to experience that real Americana,” said Bolander.

As for those who would like to see continued development on the west side of Joplin, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has future plans for 7th Street, which could ultimately lead to an increase in construction along Joplin’s west end.

“MoDOT has an upcoming project on Route 66 (7th Street) in Joplin that will extend from Schifferdecker Avenue to just west of Range Line Road (we won’t be touching the Range Line intersection itself). The project will involve rebuilding the roadway pavement, rebuilding the sidewalks, and making other changes to improve the traffic flow and safety along the corridor.  The project is currently scheduled for award in June 2025. Construction will take place in 2025 and 2026,” said Transportation Project Manager, Craig Switzer with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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“I see so much potential along this corridor. It’s an older commercial corridor and it has seen a lot of travel over the years, so there’s some wear and tear. But, as far as property values across the city, they’re more affordable on the west side of Joplin. As for the future of this part of the city, there’s potential that it will be developed. We’re talking new business, new centers, and attractions for the traveling public,” said Bolander.