By Kathryn Schiliro
Progress on moving the Central of Georgia Railroad depot continues as Madison’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) voted to endorse a $67,000 contract with Curtis Whitsel, contractor, to move the depot across the railroad tracks.
The contract includes relocation of the depot onto a new foundation and stabilization, and doesn’t exceed what the authority has already reviewed as far as this aspect of the project, City Planning Director Monica Callahan told the DDA at their meeting last Thursday, June 20.
Related to the move, topsoil will be stored on the Shaffer lot, and extra dirt will be used to fill the lot where the blue house at 408 W. Washington Street was located. The house, which dated back to the late-1800s, contained asbestos and demolished by the city earlier this year.
The DDA is also in the process of working out power easements with Georgia Power on behalf of themselves and Norfolk Southern, depot owner, to allow power to be run under the rail on the DDA’s property to power the replacement building the DDA is building for the railroad company.
The moving and repurposing of the depot will mean a location shuffle for all parties. The Norfolk Southern-owned depot is leased by a short-line operator, Squaw Creek, that will temporarily move to the city-owned cottage in Town Park currently occupied by the Madison Artists Guild. The Artists Guild has elected, after this month, due to the need for more space, Callahan said, to move across the street to the space that formerly housed Southern Charms Bridal, 217 West Jefferson Street. When complete, the construction of the replacement building the city promised in exchange for the depot will eventually house the Norfolk Southern leasee.
When Squaw Creek moves out of the depot, repairs to the structure will begin, Callahan said.
The DDA is expecting a quote for the replacement building from Chad Roling. The moving of the depot is also dependent upon the passing of the modification of an existing Planned Residential District (PRD), of which the adjacent Town Walk Circle neighborhood is a part. The applicant, Morgan County Properties Unlimited, is proposing taking 0.72 acres from the current 5.8-acre PRD and zoning that 0.72 acres Professional/Limited Commercial (P2), thus allowing the the depot to be relocated there. The county Planning Commission is taking up the matter this month, at a meeting scheduled for this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the county administration building.
When the depot’s moved, the short-line operator leasing the building from Norfolk Southern will move to the Town Park cottage. The Artists Guild, now in the cottage, will move across the street to 217 W. Jefferson.