The historic train depot in Lula is getting a modern upgrade, but not before residents have their say.
“It’s not utilized enough,” said Joe Thomas, who has lived in Lula for about 30 years. He wants that to change.
His wife owns a florist shop in the area, and planned renovations could send ripples through the business community.
Thomas said he is focused on the finer details of the changes. It’s these ingredients that will transform the depot to host more events and celebrations while retaining its traditional charm.
On Monday, a public input meeting was held at Lula City Hall to give residents like Thomas the opportunity to comment on exactly what they hope renovating the depot near Main Street can bring to the community.
What serves as an event space for weddings and meetings — and, of course, the popular Railroad Days Festival — now belongs to the city after a deal with the former owners.
City officials entered into an agreement to take control of the train depot and rental venue from the Lula Area Betterment Association in August.
Renovations over two or three phases could be complete within two years, officials said.
Rindt-McDuff, a Marietta firm with offices in Gainesville, has been contracted to render a master plan and designs.
City officials say they plan to invest $150,000 over a two-year period to complete the upgrades to the train depot.
Councilman Garnett Smith said he just wants to see the city break even on the venture. If that can be done, it will be a huge benefit to the community.
Fellow Councilman Vince Evans, also a 30-year resident of Lula, described how the depot’s rebirth as a more accommodating gathering space would bring the city together.
“It’s a natural fit,” he said.