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Fort Valley Downtown Development Authority looking for historic freight depot funding

In Fort Valley, the Downtown Development Authority says they are weighing all their options to figure out what to do with the freight depot.

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — For over 30 years, the freight depot in downtown Fort Valley has been abandoned. 

At first, the city of Fort Valley wanted to step in and do something about it. Now, chairman Bobby Barnes with the Downtown Development Authority says negotiations are at a standstill.

Barnes says back in 2006, the authority received a transportation grant that had to be matched by money from the city.

"There's an $856,000 grant that comes with a 20 percent match. So, for every dollar that we spend, we get 80 cents back," he said.

A few years ago, the city council answered.

"They pulled the money back. Either they just didn't have the funds or whatever reason. So, that puts us in scramble mode," Barnes said. "Now we're trying to go find alternative financing."

He says after losing funding from the city two years ago, they've had to brainstorm other options.

One of the options Barnes says they're looking into is picking up the current depot brick-by-brick and moving it to the vacant lot across the street.

"Moving our DDA office into here, a little portion of it, and have a little portion as a museum, with pictures and all the old history of that," he said.

But Barnes says that is still expensive, and knocking it down altogether would still cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Grant providers have been very excited to do this. They don't want to take the money back. They would love to see us do the deal. So, they've extended deadline after deadline, after deadline for us," he said.

Barnes says if they can't get funding soon, the depot will continue to deteriorate.

"I don't know if we'll ever be able to get another grant," he said.

Barnes adds that the freight depot made the 2018 'places in peril' list created by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.


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