Depot idle as new bids accepted

Published 12:06 am Monday, August 10, 2015

Natchez aldermen will receive bids for the renovation of the old train depot on Broadway Street. This will be the third time bids have been advertised for the project. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Natchez aldermen will receive bids for the renovation of the old train depot on Broadway Street. This will be the third time bids have been advertised for the project. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Third time’s the charm, right?

That’s what city officials are hoping when they receive the third round of bids Tuesday for the renovation of the downtown railroad depot.

“The first time we received no bids, and the second time they weren’t within the available monies,” said Community Development Director James Johnston.

Bids for the renovation of the city-owned depot, located on North Broadway Street, were first advertised more than a year ago.

Johnston said for the third round of bids, the engineering firm designing the depot’s update — Smith Seckman Reid (SSR) — prepared the bid with a base bid and five add options.

The base bid, Johnston said, includes the basic renovation of the depot. The add options are other renovation needs that can be bid on separately, he said.

“We didn’t change any of the plans, just how the project is bid,” Johnston said.

The add options include:

-Electrical work

-Heating, ventilation, cooling and plumbing installation

-Window repairs and painting interior drywall

-A new brick patio on the west side of the depot

-Construction of a new restroom pavilion

Sharpie Smith of SSR said by breaking the bid into a base bid with five options, aldermen have the ability to accept the base bid, and then pick and choose options.

Once aldermen receive bids Tuesday during their regularly scheduled meeting, which begins at 11 a.m. in the council chambers, Johnston said the office of planning and the Mississippi Department of Transportation would review bids, and then recommend one to the board.

Johnston said the board would probably award a bid during its Aug. 25 regular meeting.

Once the board moves forward with a bid, Johnston said it could be another few months before residents actually see progress at the depot.

“You’re looking probably at mid October (for renovation and construction to begin),” Johnston said.

And while plans to renovate the depot are moving slowly down the track, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said what the depot would be used for is still up in the air.

“There are several uses that have been proposed, but we have made no definite decision on what will be housed there,” Brown said. “We can’t really propose anything until we award a bid.”

Brown said there were previous talks of using the depot for an extensive service through Alcorn State University.

However, since plans have stalled on the project while the city awaits bid approval, Brown said those previous plans are no longer in the mix.

In the meantime, Brown said the city would continue to monitor the depot, and keep vandalism at bay.

“We have it secured, and we’re trying to police it and keep it as clean and as attractive to the visitor population as possible,” Brown said.