Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
New life is set to be breathed back into Delaware’s historic CSX rail depot. Columbus-based investment and development firm RiverWest Partners, which purchased the building in 2019 from CSX Transportation, plans to redevelop the depot into a “community destination” that could include a restaurant and office space.
Located at the corner of East Central Avenue and Lake Street, the rail depot has existed in Delaware for nearly 140 years dating back to 1885, when it was built by the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis (C. C. C. & I.) Railway Company. In 1906, the depot became a part of the New York Central Railroad, which provided connections between western Illinois and New York City.
As passenger train services faded, the rail depot stopped use in 1950. Through the years since train service ceased, the depot has been used for a variety of different purposes but has most recently sat vacant and in a state of continued deterioration for some time. In 2018, the depot was added to Preservation Ohio’s list of most endangered historic sites.
“RiverWest Partners saw the enormous potential in the building, its location, the continued and prospective growth of the city, and its place in the history of Delaware,” the firm said in a press release.
RiverWest pointed to both the city and Delaware County’s rapid growth as a primary point of interest in purchasing the depot, saying it hopes to “harness the city’s continued growth and success” with the redevelopment of the depot.
According to the release, plans include the possibility of removing an embankment to expose portions of the hand-hewn basement stone foundation to allow for walkout restaurant and patio space along Lake Street. The 2,800-square-foot existing first-floor layout also allows for a walk-out patio area to complement the interior space, the release states.
Plans for the exterior of the depot are to renovate and rehabilitate the building in accordance with the historical character of the property.
“We are excited to rehabilitate and develop this unique building to bring it back to life while adding to the growing energy of the east side of Delaware,” the principals of RiverWest said in a written statement. “Delaware has seen tremendous growth in its downtown, and we are starting to see this same energy on the east side. We think the Depot will be a catalyst for continued neighborhood growth, together with many other projects completed or in the works in this dynamic neighborhood.”
Often overlooked and long in need of a boost, RiverWest’s purchase of the depot is yet another step in the revitalization of Delaware’s east side. Recently, the Food Truck Depot opened just across the tracks from the rail depot, and Homestead Beer Company opened its second location there while also maintaining the food truck approach.
Any interested potential tenants of the historic rail depot can contact RiverWest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 614-340-9830.
Delaware County Historical Society’s Susan Logan found that the last day of passenger service would be on November 19, 1965.
From the Delaware Gazette paper of November 16, 1965: “According to Delaware City directories, the Lake Street terminal building was used as a freight station until 1969.” Peter White told me that the freight activity moved to the cement block building east of the terminal and that all freight service via rail on this line stopped in 1971.