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Fayetteville Looks At Train Depot To Help Revitalize Downtown

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FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville city leaders are looking to the past to spur downtown development. The city is one step away from getting a $1.5 million grant that would be spent on restoring one of the most historic buildings downtown.

On the outside, it looks like what it is -- an old train depot built back in 1890. It has not been used in more than two decades.

Inside, it is much worse. Thanks to 110 years of wear and tear, what was once the hub of activity is now just a faint memory covered with dust and debris.

City leaders want to restore the building and make it the focal point of downtown once again. In early January, the state is expected to give $1.4 million to the restoration project.

Doug Traub, a member of theFayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau,says by the end of 2003, the city will have a restored, beautiful 1890 railroad depot.

"It will be second only in prominence to the markethouse in downtown Fayetteville," Traub said.

The people who live and work around the old train depot say restoring it, and making it the center piece of downtown, would be a great idea that would be great for nearby businesses.

"This place, when it's restored, will bring more tourism that's already coming into Fayetteville," said Alba Gonzalez, a downtown worker.

If city leaders get the grant money, the building will eventually be turned into a museum and visitors center.

Restoring the depot would be only the first of a three-phase project.

"Phase two is when we actually develop the museum exhibits that will actually go in on the ground floor and make site improvements all around the property," Traub said. "Phase three is actually purchasing the trolleys themselves that would ride around on a historic tour."

The depot is one of the oldest in the state and is listed on theNational Register of Historic Places.

City leaders say all three phrases of the downtown project will cost an estimated $4.6 million.

On January 7, city leaders find out if they get the grant. The state money would cover 80 percent of the project.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau has committed $320,000 to the project, and the City Council has agreed to donate the land and other services worth about $500,000.


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