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Union Station renovations part of Winston-Salem bond referendum

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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.


  • Jesus H. Christ

    Isn’t this the same building that the city took from the last owner through eminent domain because he refused to sell it to them for pennies on the dollar? This proves the government can take everything you own if they want.

    Posted on: 11:57 pm, May 21, 2012, by Chad Tucker, updated on: 12:05am, May 22, 2012

    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.

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