By Jane Smith
The historic Seaboard Air Line Railway Station in Delray Beach will be renovated and become home to the city’s Health and Wellness Center and Human Resources offices, city commissioners decided Jan. 12.
The $2.6 million rehabilitation cost will come from two sources, Public Works Director Missie Barletto said at the workshop.
The bulk, $1.8 million, will come from an insurance payout after vandals set the station on fire in February 2020. Her department will contribute another $209,000, leaving about a $630,000 gap.
She estimated that moving the Health and Wellness Center would save $530,000 in rent over 10 years. The center is in a privately owned building at 525 NE Third Ave. It provides annual physicals, flu shots, X-rays, acute care and generic drugs at no cost to city employees and their families.
“We do not have dates for the construction completion for the depot as the construction management company is still in the planning, design and permit phase. In general, we expect construction to be complete within two years,” Gina Carter, city spokeswoman, wrote on Jan. 22 in response to a question from The Coastal Star.
The wellness and human resources centers will move into the facility when it’s complete, she wrote.
Moving Human Resources will free up space in City Hall.
The train station sits just west of Interstate 95 and north of Atlantic Avenue. Designed by Gustav Maass in the Mediterranean Revival style, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The city listed it on the Local Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Amtrak last used the train station in 1995.
Delray Beach paid $1.58 million in 2005 for the historic train station on nearly 1 acre. At one time, commissioners discussed spending $325,000 to renovate it.
A Fire Department official toured the site on Feb. 25, 2020, the day of the fire, Roger Cope, a Delray Beach architect, told the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency Board. The official determined the walls were structurally sound, said Cope, who was involved with restoring the train station.
“But the wooden structure supporting the roof was destroyed,” Cope said.
The station can be restored, he said.
“The train station did not have sprinklers to prevent the fire from spreading,” said Bill Bathurst, then a CRA board member. “Our historic gems need to be protected.”