Santa Fe Depot Project On Track

 Photo by Tom Harper

Photo by Tom Harper

Santa Fe All the Way
The next steps in a $1.7 million rehab of Lawrence's Santa Fe Depot, including funding and construction documents, are in place, and work should begin later this summer. A refurbished Santa Fe station will be perfectly positioned to benefit from either a comeback by personal rail travel, finding its place through some future use as an important civic building, or both.

In a critical step, the City Commission voted on May 2 on a revised plan to take ownership of the depot. That action may have caused everyone who had worked for that day, from volunteers who washed the station’s windows to city officials who worked with huge government and corporate entities, to stop and think “wait, how long did all that take?” In all, it took nine years, but the Santa Fe Depot, an important piece of 1950s-era architecture, is near to the next stop in its history.

Depot Redux has spent those nine years working incrementally to make the building cleaner, safer, and more accommodating to visitors and resident travelers alike. Staging fun and informative events both impromptu and planned, the group shone a light on an important component of our architecture and history that had been allowed to fall into the shadows. Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard was there every step of the way, persevering through complex negotiations among a web of national corporations and government agencies who were stakeholders in the project. The neon "LAWRENCE" signs on both ends of the platform canopy (exact duplicates of the originals), now shine every night.

For their work on the Santa Fe Depot, Depot Redux and Stoddard have been chosen as winners of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance's 2017 Preservation Achievement Award.

The key funding piece was a $1.2 million grant from KDOT. The city match, after the sale of historic tax credits, will be about $160,000. Amtrak will kick in another $200,000 for ADA improvements. Amtrak had previously invested $1.5 million in the loading platform and exterior lighting upgrades several years ago.

Hernly and Associates developed the construction documents, which were also paid for by a grant with the city matching a small percentage of the funds. In fact, every step in this process (certainly one reason it took so long), where the city spent funds to get to this point, a greater amount of funds was leveraged from state or federal sources.