Winston-Salem,N.C.- The battle over Winston-Salem’s former train depot continues. The historic Union Station, built in 1926 closed in 1970 and was offered to the city ofWinston-Salem. The city didn’t want the depot then and in 1975 Havery Davis bought it from the railroad for his garage. “I was here when I was 8 years old riding the train toBaltmore,Maryland,” said Davis who’s run Davis Garage with his son Chris. “It’s a great building. The railroad didn’t spare anything producing a good strong building,” said Davis.
The Davis family has long wanted to preserve the building and in 2005 approached neighboring Winston-Salem State University and the city of Winston-Salem with a private-public partnership plan that would restore the depot in hopes of bringing it back to life. “[Winston-Salem] got to taking a look at it and said your plan wont work, we’d rather just take it over,” said Davis who was then faced with eminent domain, the legal authority giving municipalities the ability to condemn and seize someone’s property for the public good but paying fair market value. “Eminent domain is hard to deal with, they gotcha. [City leaders] have the power to take it away from you,” said Davis who lost his property to eminent domain last year but is now tied up in court because the city failed to pay fair market value. He foughtWinston-Salembefore in court on other property and won when city leaders failed to pay fair market value. Previously Davis stated the depot is worth about 1.5 million, with the city offering $681,000.00. Davis, who wants the historic property saved too, says he’s ready to take it to a jury if the city isn’t willing to pay. Some involved in the case say the city doesn’t have the money to pay fair market value, though city leaders won’t comment.
Monday night the city council met in closed session with the city attorney Angela Carmon to discuss either, paying fair market value, giving the property back or fighting it in court. After the meeting Carmon said the matter remains in litigation and she could not comment.