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Union Station renovations part of Winston-Salem bond referendum

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The old Union Station on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive could be in store for some major changes and improvements.

Built in the 1920s, Union Station was once a transportation hub for Winston-Salem.

“It was pretty sophisticated. That visually reflected Winston-Salem’s prominence at the time, and (the city’s) need for a place like this,” said Laura Phillips, architectural historian.

Passenger trains stopped servicing Winston-Salem in the 1970s. Since then, Phillips has seen the historic building used as a car repair shop. Now, it’s a rundown, empty building.

But soon, it could be restored to its original form.

The City of Winston-Salem has approved a new $175 million bond referendum that includes more than $18 million worth of renovations for the now vacant building.

“We’ve been talking about the potential reuse of the building since 2002,” said Greg Turner, assistant city manager for the City of Winston-Salem.

Turner says crews have already started working on the building to prevent it from deteriorating anymore. However, real renovations will start if voters approve the bond referendum in November.

“Winston-Salem is one of the few cities – one of the few major cities - that doesn’t have a rail station. We thought getting this building back in potential use would improve our odds of getting rail service,” said Turner.

He says it will take time to get passenger rail lines back to Winston-Salem, so first, the building would be used as a bus depot. The end goal is to make Union Station a transportation for the city again.

Turner says they city is already doing a usage study to figure out what other businesses could go in the building. An architect would potentially be hired as soon as the bond referendum is approved.

“If they do that, it once again will be a point of pride for the city,” said Phillips.