Both historic train depot buildings now in new Hamilton location; buyers wanted

Once the second of the two former CSX train depot buildings is lowered onto its foundation, Hamilton will focus on offloading the two newly relocated buildings to a buyer.

It was a long process, but the city of Hamilton now has the two former CSX train depot buildings at its property on the corner of Maple Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, some 1,000-plus feet north of their original location.

On Monday, Wolfe House & Building Movers relocated the one-story, 330-ton building that was part of the former depot that saw multiple presidents visit over the decades. City officials wanted to save the historic structures after CSX officials wanted to raze the buildings that were next to the railroad tracks just north of Pershing Avenue.

There are a few punch list items Hamilton’s Director of Engineering Rich Engle said he needs to address before his department can say they are done with the project, including pricing on a new roof for the two-story building and restoring the historic windows the city has in storage.

Engle said he will need to communicate with the city’s planning department and the historic review committee to figure out what they’d want the old windows restored, which he is “sure their preference would be to restore those windows and put them back in place.” But he would want to talk with a local expert to get an idea on pricing.

A timeline for finishing the project can’t yet be established, Engle said, until he knows exactly how much remains of the $2 million budget authorized by City Council. The project needed more gravel than was expected, he said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton officials have wanted to save the former train depot since 2020 after CSX leaders announced their desire to demolish the historic depot, which has had several U.S. presidents, including Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and both Roosevelts.

Dozens of people came out to watch the one-story former depot building be moved north 1,000-plus feet, and while people came and went throughout the hours-long move, the crowd at its peak was around 50 people, give or take.

The first building, a two-story brick structure that weighed 220 tons, was moved on Dec. 20 and will be lowered onto the concrete brick foundation once the mortar has cured for 30 days. When the foundation for the single-story building has been built up and the mortar cured, it will be lowered.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Once the structures are lowered onto their foundations ― the two-story building should be lowered in the next day or two ― the buildings will be put into a “white box” condition where an end user, like a restaurant, bar, or some other type of business, could complete business-specific interior upgrades and occupy it.

Last week, Mallory Greenham, with the office of the city manager, told the Journal-News that Hamilton’s economic development officials would “very soon” be reaching out to companies, though some have already contacted the city.

“We’d love to have food, beverage, something that draws foot traffic as an anchor to that (Maple Avenue) corridor,” she said. “And then the retail and other stuff can fill in around it.”

But Greenham said the city would reach out to potential buyers after the move is complete, which includes the lowering of the building onto the foundation so potential buyers can get a sense of a potential floor plan.

Hamilton Planning Director Liz Hayden said the former CSX train depot buildings are designated as historic buildings, so exterior work needs approval from the city’s architectural design review board. But she said there are several uses permitted by the zoning, so “theoretically, a user could just submit a building permit, and it would be a pretty streamlined process.”

“It’s an amazing building with good bones, but it will need a ton of work, so a good end user would be someone with a passion for historic buildings willing to give it the time and attention it needs to get back in operation,” Hayden said.

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