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Plan Afoot To Save Historic Train Depot From Demolition

http://66.225.205.104/JR20110223.mp3

A plan is forming to save the historic train depot on Moores Chapel Road in Charlotte from demolition. CSX - which owns the depot - is being forced by a new city code to either repair the building or tear it down. WFAE's Julie Rose reports on what may be a third option. The third option is for CSX to give the building to the Historic Landmarks Commission, which would move it just across the train tracks, fix it up and lease it as office space for a decade or two until it's eventually needed as a train depot again. The North Carolina Department of Transportation hopes one day to revive the commuter line between Charlotte and Gastonia for which the depot was originally built in the early 1900s. The transportation department's Allan Paul says his agency has had its eye on the old Thrift Train Depot for years. "The Piedmont and Northern depots had a very distinct architectural style and the Thrift Station is one of the few remaining that has been spared the bull dozer," says Paul, who directs operations for the NCDOT rail division. "We're very, very interested in seeing (the depot) preserved." Until recently, Paul says CSX wasn't interested in selling the Thrift Depot, but a new city building code has forced the issue. All commercial buildings - historic or not - must meet higher standards for appearance and safety. The depot is empty and in disrepair. Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission Director Dan Morrill says there's no estimate yet on what it would cost to fix the Thrift Depot, but CSX has already said it would be more cost effective to tear it down. "The railroad has no direct desire to tear the building down," says Morrill. "They're just forced into a situation where they've got to make a decision because of the action of the city." The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission have asked CSX to donate the building to it instead, and help pay for the relocation. Otherwise, CSX could demolish the structure as early as next February. The company says it's working to find a way to safely preserve the depot.