Grantville could receive a $95,000 grant for the interior renovation of the Passenger Depot if jobs are created, but the building may be better suited as a historical landmark for the city, according to Kyle Campbell with Preservation South LLC.
The grant is still pending.
In September, the council approved Preservation South LLC to complete the interior design work at the downtown passenger depot. The firm also completed the exterior work on the depot earlier in 2018.
Last year, the council originally decided to use the 1,500-square-foot passenger depot as the city’s history and welcome center, but earlier this year, City Manager Al Grieshaber said the depot could be renovated to be “multifunctional,” to have the possibility of a coffee shop along with a welcome center in the front and and/or a meeting room or professional office in the rear of the building.
Grieshaber said for the city to receive the Rural Business Development Grant, the city must create jobs. Grieshaber said the city would attempt to create four full-time jobs.
Campbell was asked by Grieshaber, Mayor Doug Jewell and Councilwoman Ruby Hines to attend the meeting to give his professional opinion.
Campbell said the largest room in the depot is approximately 450 square feet and is the largest of the three rooms.
Hines asked Campbell if he would recommend the space be multifunctional.
Campbell said he always tells his clients, “Don't fight the building you have.”
Campbell said, in his professional opinion, the building was being recommended to be used for more than it can comfortably allow. He said a coffee shop may require more plumbing and office space designation may also require changes, which could make it harder to keep the depot closest to its original, historical state.
At a previous council meeting, Campbell said the firm plans to keep the authenticity of the passenger depot and traced historic data regarding the building’s structure back to 1921. Campbell said the restoration of the depot could bring more tourism to Grantville.
Councilman Alan Wacaser told Campell it seemed as if he were lobbying for “one thing,” against the multifunctional idea.
Campbell said he didn’t have a “dog in the fight,” in regard to how the building was used.
“I was requested to give my professional opinion,” Campbell said. “I’m happy to design whatever the city wants.”
Historical artifacts are currently stored at city hall, but Hines said there is more history in Grantville than what’s at city hall.
“We’re working with historians and waiting for a place to put the history,” Hins said. “History should be in one place.”
Wacaser raised concern about the vandalism or theft of artifacts, but Jewell said that could happen anywhere.
“The roof or ceiling could fall in,” Jewell said.
Grieshaber confirmed, saying, “In fact, it did.”
Councilman Jim Sells said downtown is being neglected, citing sidewalks that need to be repaired.
“The history center will never get any visitation, but downtown gets a lot,” Sells said.
Without the job creation, the city could possibly receive a small grant for under $5,000, according to Dennis Hanthorn with Hanthorn Consulting LLC.
The city contracted with the company last year to assist with grant writing.
Hanthorn said grants are small for historical projects and the largest grant he found was for $3,000.