Depot businesses getting relocation noticesPublished 12:28am Friday, June 14, 2013
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will soon send packing the two businesses in the former railroad depot on Broadway Street.
The City of Natchez is expected to send letters soon to the Old South Trading Post and the Cock of the Walk restaurant letting the owners know they have three months to relocate, Mayor Butch Brown said.
The relocations, Brown said, are in preparation of the planned renovation of the depot.
Brown told the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday at its meeting that the project was to the point at which the businesses would need to relocate in order for the project to go forward.
The city cannot receive grant funding to renovate the depot if the building houses for-profit businesses.
The renovation of the former railroad depot is part of the city’s project in conjunction with Alcorn State and Mississippi State universities to relocate the Natchez Farmers’ Market to the bluff and operate the depot as a product development center, meeting space and public restroom facilities. operate the depot as a product development center, meeting space and public restroom facilities.
Brown said the project, which will total approximately $2.5 million, will begin as soon as the businesses have moved out of the building.
“As soon as we get them out, we’ll be tearing down what needs to get torn down, moving the old boxcar and things to make way for the restoration,” he said. “We don’t want to lose any time.”
The project, Brown said, will maintain the historic character of the building and will be done with advice from the Historic Natchez Foundation.
The owners of the Old South Trading Post or Cock of the Walk say they have never received any kind of official notice from the city that they would have to relocate.
Old South Trading Post owner Jonathan Wood announced at an aldermen meeting in January that his business would be relocating. He said Wednesday he had not made a decision on where he would relocate his store.
The store has been housed in the depot for the past nine years.
Wood said he does not harbor any ill feelings toward the city about the relocation.
“The Old South Trading Post has been out of room for quite a while,” he said. “We are looking forward to the expansion of our base facility, which will enable us to have more merchandise available for our customers.”
Wood said, however, he did think city officials need to take a long, hard look at the income they would lose by taking the businesses out of the depot.
The rent for the depot the city receives from the two businesses totals $1,047 monthly.
Brown said the depot has never been a revenue center for the city given the maintenance for the historic building.
Cock of the Walk owner Patricia Clark said she has not decided the new location for the restaurant, which has been housed in the depot for the past 20 years.
“I guarantee you I’m working on finding us somewhere,” she said. “We will move on … I promise you.”