A construction consultant estimates the cost to restore Decatur’s 112-year-old railroad depot to its glory days at more than $2.5 million.
Hoar Program Management, of Huntsville, shows a funding shortfall of $25,825 for the proposed project, but its estimate includes nearly $222,000 in alternate work the city could choose not to do, Council President Gary Hammon said Wednesday.
The City Council will discuss Hoar’s estimate at Monday’s 5 p.m. work session.
Officials have been trying to put a cost on the renovations for the past four months. The process of assessing lead paint removal had to start over when architectural plans were redrawn in December.
If Decatur purchases the building off Vine Street Northwest, part of it would be used for a transportation museum and the remaining space to house police offices.
“We’ve done as thorough of a job that you can do on the front end of a project like this, and we feel like Hoar has given us the best estimate we can get,” said Wally Terry, the city’s community and economic development director.
Decatur’s plan is to use a $720,000 federal transportation enhancement grant through ALDOT and $440,000 from the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority — $90,000 for the grant match and $350,000 over seven years.
Another $200,000 is to be raised in private donations, leaving the city to cover the remaining $1,225,825 by borrowing. If financed over 20 years with current interest rates, payments would range from $95,000 to $105,000 annually.
“I’m inclined to do it,” Hammon said. “I think it’s one of those projects where 10 years from now we will all be happy we did it. It’s just that over the next two or three years, there will be some citizens that may not like us for it.”
The work includes removing and covering lead-based paint, renovating the inside, repairing the roof and adding parking. The building sits next to active train tracks.
Hammon said if the depot is renovated and police move in, the city could move personnel from the City Annex building, which it is leasing on Cain Street Northeast, and save about $65,000 annually. City and transportation planners and information technology staff could be moved to City Hall, he said.
“Should the city decide against the renovation and continue to lease the annex, monies will have to be spent for repairs and renovation within the next two years on the annex,” Hammon said.
The city has until March 29 to give depot owner Wally Inscho an answer on the property. The deal must close by April 30, per its agreement with Inscho.
The city has tentatively agreed to purchase the depot for $175,000, $45,000 more than its appraised value. Inscho said he has spent more than $100,000 on repairs since he purchased the depot in 1983 for $22,500.
Officials see the depot’s restoration as another add-on to economic revitalization in downtown. The property would connect the historic business district on Bank Street to Northwest Decatur’s historic neighborhoods across the railroad tracks.
Underwood and Associates, a Decatur architectural firm, would refurbish the clay roofing tiles, return the building’s signature cupola and use as much of its original materials as possible.
Hammon said if the renovation is approved, work could begin by summer and take a year to finish.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-340-2440 or email@example.com.
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