- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - The Cedar Falls community is looking for ways to address the uncertain future of the Rock Island train depot after it was recently vacated by Regions Bank.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (https://bit.ly/1GjKwMF ) reports the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the Friends of Historic Cedar Falls and Community Main Street have begun discussing options for the 145-year-old depot after it was vacated March 20. Citizens hope to avoid a worst-case scenario of having the building torn down.

“We don’t know what the future of the building is going to be,” said Mark Miller with the Friends of Historic Cedar Falls. “We just think it would be a shame if it were torn down.”

Friends of Historic Cedar Falls is affiliated with the Cedar Falls Development Group. The group says that it does not have enough money to buy the depot, but is willing to consult anyone who does purchase the property with the goal of preservation.

According to Dustin Whitehead, a listing agent with Lockard Development, Regions Bank has put the depot on the market for $599,000. Ken Lockard, a chairman for the listing agency, says that the company hopes that whoever buys the property would enhance the existing structure.

“Nobody can stop (a future owner) from tearing it down,” said University of Northern Iowa history professor Tom Connors. “But if you tear down one of oldest buildings in town, that’s not a good entry into the community.”

Built in 1871, the train depot is considered to be one of downtown’s most historic landmarks. It served as a rail traffic hub on the former Rock Island railroad line until it was sold to Cedar Lumber in 1969. In 1972, the depot was converted into the Depot Restaurant, which it remained until 1986.

“We were Cheers before Cheers,” said former Depot Restaurant owner Shirley Merner. “We didn’t realize how many lives that building touched until we reopened the Depot.”

The Historic Preservation Commission is finalizing the creation of a downtown historic district, which would make certain buildings eligible for tax credits and recognition on the National Register of Historic Places. The old train depot is one of the buildings the group has surveyed.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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