Beyond the posh old mansions and beneath the aging superhighway here sits the remnants of a grand, turn-of-the-century train station that the federal government and private developers have decided should be idle no more. They're going to renovate it.
Richmond's Main Street Station, a red brick Victorian structure, replete with traditional clock tower, grand archways, marble floors and balconies, was boarded up and vandalized during the past six years, since Amtrak built a new station on the outskirts of the city.
Growing weeds push through cracks in the stairways, windows are broken and chainlink fences and barbed wire bar the arched doorways.
But a Richmond architectural firm, Western Development, Corp, of Washington and the CSX Corp. -- a railroad conglomerate formed by Chessie System Inc. and Seaboard Coast Line Industries Inc. -- have joined to transform the 72-year-old structure, surrounding platform and farmer's market into a specialty shopping center with restaurants and small stores pattered after Rouse Co. projects like Harborplace in Baltimore and Faneuil Hall in Boston, said Larry Shifflett, a partner in SWA Partnership Architects.
The old platform will be enclosed in glass and enlarged from one floor to three. The main brick building probably will house a small furniture-housewares store on the first two floors and an "exquisite restaurant" on the third and fourth floors, Shifflett said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently granted the development project $2.75 million to supplement more than $18 million put up by private sources. The project is expected to creat 998 permanent jobs.