City awaiting depot funding

Published 12:03 am Monday, April 7, 2014

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is expecting to receive confirmation in the next week for approximately $250,000 to help fund the renovation of the historic railroad depot on Broadway Street.

MDOT pledged the money last year and has already awarded the city $500,000 for the restoration project.

Community Development Director James Johnston said the city will provide a $125,000 match for the $500,000.

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The city, Johnston said, will also provide a $61,875 match for the $247,500 for which the city is awaiting confirmation, bringing the total funding for the project to $934,375.

Mayor Butch Brown said a portion of the city’s match will be covered by in-kind services on the project, but he is not certain how much.

The funding for the matching monies will be paid out of the city’s public properties fund, Brown said.

The city is renovating the historic depot with plans to turn it into office space, restrooms open 24 hours every day, a visitor reception area and product development facility with a demonstration kitchen.

“The depot building, except for the eaves, just the building itself, is in remarkably good condition,” Brown said.

The project is separate but linked to Alcorn State University’s efforts to relocate the Natchez Farmers Market on St. Catherine Street to the bluff.

Those plans include constructing an open-air pavilion for the market, which is operated by Alcorn’s extension program.

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

Brown said the project committee met approximately a week ago to discuss the property that will be leased to Alcorn for the farmers market. The leased property, Brown said, will only cover the footprint of the building, which will be located on the north end of the bluff near the location of the former pecan factory.

City crews have been working, Brown said, to clean up the depot site in preparation for the removal of the railroad car behind the depot.

Johnston said the city is submitting plans and specifications for approval and environmental clearance to MDOT, which will coordinate a review with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History because the building is a historic structure.

The renovation plans will also have to be reviewed by the Natchez Preservation Commission.