Broadway Street depot plans 90 percent complete

Published 12:08 am Sunday, June 8, 2014

NATCHEZ — Plans for the renovation of the downtown railroad depot could be ready for review by the Mississippi Department of Transportation next month.

Natchez Community Development Director James Johnston said Smith Seckman Reid, the company with which the city has contracted, is approximately 90 percent finished with plans and specifications for the restoration of the historic depot on Broadway Street.

MDOT has awarded the city a total of $750,000 for the restoration project.

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

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

The city plans to restore the depot by Jan. 1, 2016, the beginning of the city’s tricentennial celebration.

The renovation of the depot is being done in conjunction with Alcorn State University’s plans to relocate the Natchez Farmers Market to the bluff.

Plans include constructing an open-air building for the market, as well as office space for Alcorn and Mississippi State University extension services, Alcorn’s School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Science Dean Barry Bequette said.

Alcorn is awaiting a lease from the city for the property on which the market will be built, Bequette said. The lease must be approved by the Natchez Board of Aldermen then the State Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees.

Other details of relocating Mississippi State’s extension service from its current county-owned facility on Carthage Point Road to the market have to be worked out as well, Bequette said.

The county currently pays utilities at MSU’s extension service facility.

“We still have to work out with the county their ability to continue to support Mississippi State’s extension service,” Bequette said. “We don’t want to take that support away from Mississippi State.”

The overall project cost for the farmers market has not been determined, Bequette said, but is estimated to be more than $1 million.

Architects continue to work on plans for the facility, and Bequette said plans should be ready to review in the next week.