With the constant flow of visitors, commuters and community members, railroad stations are ideal settings in which local businesses and retail chains can thrive.
Train stations have come a long way from a basic waiting area, ticket office, platform and set of railroad tracks. Just as the demand for train travel has adapted over time, so has station design, layout and function. Older stations, many of which were built to accommodate large crowds and may have contained commercial areas, are now ripe for catering to a new kind of customer – one who is not necessarily a traveler. With their generously sized spaces and central downtown locations, train stations are perfect venues for:
- Residential and office development
- Retail shops
- Community and local government organizations
The Tucson, Ariz. depot is the pride of this desert community’s downtown. Constructed in 1907, the structure originally reflected the popular Spanish Revival style of architecture and featured a hipped red tile roof and decorative sculpture. Decades later, the building was modernized with a sleek, streamlined Art Deco facade, which it still bears today. Throughout its long history, the Tucson depot welcomed important guests such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, while also playing witness to some of the most famous shoot-outs of the Wild West. In need of heavy renovation, the building was purchased by the city in 1998.
Planning for the Future
The mayor and city council appointed a Downtown Intermodal Task Force that, with the assistance of city planners and consultants, developed a master plan to guide revitalization efforts. The city subsequently settled on a $2.8 million station restoration project with a clear goal of protecting the architectural features and history of the building while creating a destination for travelers, tourists and community members.
Thanks to planning and careful restoration, the depot stands today as an active station and popular downtown destination. In addition to an Amtrak waiting room, it features many commercial uses including:
- Office space
- Wine bar
- Event space
- Retail and shops
In 2008, Maynards Market & Kitchen opened in the depot. Building on the site’s heritage, it features an industrial railroad theme with an original ceiling and black and gray design features. Diners enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night gourmet food while taking in the history and sites of the station. The New York Times travel section even named the restaurant as a top destination in the city. Apart from the restaurant, the depot contains office space rented by a planning and landscape architecture firm. Adjacent to the station, the former Records Building now houses the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, a popular tourist destination tracing the history of regional railroading.