Downtown YMCA to be transformed, 100 years after its establishment

Local News

An apartment building with recreational amenities

JOPLIN, Mo. – The former Downtown YMCA, located at 510 Wall Ave. in Joplin, is set to finally be transformed a century after its establishment and nearly four years after its closing.

Joplin’s Blue Haven Homes, owned by brothers Sawyer and Sullivan Smith, plans to convert the historic building into an apartment complex.

The real estate investment firm bought the building for $450,000 last summer and is planning a $5 to $6 million renovation.

“We’re not slapping a Band-Aid on all these things. We want to make sure it’s done right, done well, so that it can last for another 100 years going forward,” said Sawyer.

Blue Haven Homes chose the building due to its location, neglected state and character.

“It was also a very unique building. It’s very different from just a cut and dry apartment building… We’re going to try to leave as much of the recreational stuff as we can while keeping a good amount of apartments in there,” said Sullivan.

The Smiths want to keep the “YMCA feel,” where people can go for activities, fitness and wellbeing while balancing being an apartment complex.

They’re hoping to construct about 45 units in the building, depending on what can be done with the gymnasium in compliance with the Historical Society’s standards.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th floors are going to consist of 2 bed, 1 bath and 1 bed, 1 bath apartments, with other units located throughout the rest of the building’s available space.

The brothers plan to bring the pool “back to life,” keep most of the original lobby area, build office space where the original offices were, and are hoping to add a coffee shop or deli.

They are even contemplating the idea of turning the racquetball court into a rock climbing gym.

But the outside of the building will keep its original, historic look.

“When you look at it, the front of the building will look relatively the same. But the inside will look very different,” said Sawyer.

Blue Haven Homes is pursuing the renovation with Historic Tax Credits, so certain preservation standards must be met.

To assist in maintaining the integrity of the building, the brothers are working with local architect firm Corner Greer and Associates Inc. and Rosin Preservation of Kansas City.


Blue Haven Homes was founded in 2019 with a passion for renovating distressed homes. With the help of their father who has a background in construction, the brothers completed one successful home renovation and decided to turn it into a business, ultimately looking to much larger renovations.

“Normally we just do single family homes. We buy them, fix them up, then rent them out as rental properties. We decided we wanted to look into something bigger… So we started looking around the area and really honed in on downtown. We really would like to take a building that is neglected downtown and make it into something great,” said Sawyer.

To stay updated on the renovation’s progress and the company’s other projects, visit Blue Haven Home’s Facebook page or follow their Instagram page @blue_haven_homes.

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