“Murphy’s Irish Pub one of many businesses that closed after 2011 tornado

Before the tornado, Murphy’s Irish Pub featured Karaoke every night. Murphy’s Irish Pub didn’t make a comeback after the tornado,

Before the tornado, Murphy’s Irish Pub featured Karaoke every night. Murphy’s Irish Pub didn’t make a comeback after the tornado,

Before the natural disaster that took place on May 22, 2011 there was Murphy’s Irish Pub, which featured karaoke every night.

Murphy’s was one of the many area businesses destroyed by the EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin. It is also one of the area businesses that has yet to be rebuilt. Mark Wood was the owner of Murphy’s at the time of the tornado.

“I got fed up with the building department, with the city,” Wood said as to why he didn’t rebuild.

Like many area business owners that were affected by the tornado, Wood wanted to build back and reopen as soon as possible. The problem, however, was that re-opening a business he already owned would be more trouble than he anticipated.

“I had drafted some plans and sent them to the city for approval,” Wood said, “The city had them for over three weeks before I finally went down to the office to talk to them. I scheduled a meeting with the person who was in charge of the plan approval and brought a copy of my plans. The guy said that everything looked good and that we could start the application process for the building permit.”

Shortly after everything had seemed to be sorted out with the city, Wood received a call from the city official. The official informed Wood that his plans would have passed city code had Wood attempted to build his business prior to 2005. New regulations had been added that Wood did not know about. So he hired an architect for $5,000 to draft some new plans. While everything was being sorted out with the city, Wood was going ahead with the construction side of the rebuilding process.

“I had been in touch with an old customer, who was a regular, who put me into contact with a couple of guys from Arizona who wanted to help,” said Wood. “They were going to sell me the particular kind of concrete building block that we were going to use for the rebuilding project at cost.”

While Wood was making arrangements with other contractors and buying replacement equipment, like coolers, bar stools and pool tables, he received another call from the city. He would need to drill into the foundation in eight different locations to provide core samples to the city. He also was required to alter the new draft plans to include more brick to the exterior of the building. The city requires any establishment that is built on Main Street to have more than 30 percent of the exterior of the building be composed of brick. The newest setbacks not only caused a delay in the reopening of the pub, but the setbacks also came with more cost. The new requirements were going to cost an additional $8,000, Wood said. 

The city’s water retention guidelines were also a problem.

“Apparently more than one third of the property has to be conducive to the water retention guidelines set by the city,” said Wood. “It was going to cost me an additional $1,000 to hire a structural engineer to come in and fix the plans for a third time.”

By this time, Wood was $15,000 over budget and decided to cut his losses.

“I ended up selling the land the bar was on to the car wash, next door,” he said.

Matt Wright, with the city of Joplin building department, shed some light on the building requirements post-2011 tornado.

“From 15th Street to the south end of town along Main Street, businesses have to be 100 percent masonry, as far as the exterior of the building,” said Wright. “As far as how much of what specific type of masonry composes the outside of the building, we really don’t have any specific requirements. We would like to see a blend, but there aren’t any set guidelines.”

Judy Petty, owner of Frank’s Lounge, on Main Street, rebuilt after the tornado.

“I hired a contractor, who brought in an architect that drafted plans and turned them into the city,” said Petty. “The city was really busy after the tornado, so it took awhile to get the plans approved. We could have been open 30 days quicker if we didn’t have to wait for them to approve the plans, but with as many businesses that were also submitting paperwork, the wait was understandable.”