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Aldermen expected to receive proposals for former railroad depot work

Published 12:12am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will soon hire an architect to begin design work for the restoration of the former railroad depot on Broadway Street.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen is expected to receive proposals at its meeting today for architectural design services for the depot project.

The restoration of the depot will include renovations and repairs to the interior and exterior of the historic building, Mayor Butch Brown said.

The scope of work is expected to include the addition of public restrooms, meeting and office space, as well as a product development and demonstration area.

The depot project will also connect to the Natchez Trails Project — the city’s ongoing transportation project that has added walking trails and sidewalks downtown — because the depot will serve as a visitor reception center for the Trails, which will be integrated into the redevelopment of the area.

The city does not yet have a cost estimate on the restoration, Brown said.

The city is partnering with Alcorn State and Mississippi State universities to renovate the depot and relocate the Natchez Farmers Market to the bluff.

Alcorn’s School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Science Dean Barry Bequette said the estimated cost for Alcorn’s portion of the project is $1.2 million.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation awarded the city $500,000 in funding for the project through the Transportation Alternatives Program funds, which will require a 20-percent match.

Mississippi State and Alcorn State officials have said they are hoping to house joint educational opportunities in the depot, from distance learning to hands-on continuing education courses.

Officials have also said a demonstration kitchen in the depot could be rented for product development purposes, educational and entrepreneurial training.

The board will meet in the Natchez City Council Chambers, with the finance meeting at 4:30 p.m. and the regular meeting at 6 p.m.