Bids for the potential sale or lease of the Historic Train Depot are due April 28, the latest move for the 1.3-acre site on Dixie Highway owned by the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum.
Maintaining two historic sites including its headquarters in the old Town Hall at 71 N. Federal Highway is draining the nonprofit’s resources for other uses, according to Mary Csar, executive director.
“We as a nonprofit historical society and museum cannot afford to make it a museum; we can’t afford to oversee the building…We want this building to be a star,” she said.
The Whelchel Partners Real Estate Services sign has gone up and down for quite awhile and at least 200 callers have expressed interest in the property at 747 S. Dixie Highway, said principal Jay Whelchel.
“The historical society has upgraded and maintained it over the years,” he added.
The Palm Beach County appraised price is $2.2 million and the site includes a 3,254-square-foot building and a patio that surrounds the building at another 4,000 square feet, Whelchel said.
The city has used the building, which has a kitchen, for community events, Csar said.
But the transaction isn’t just about the money.
“The property has some complications. There’s a preservation easement,” Whelchel said.
“We have a preservation easement on the exterior, meaning the exterior cannot be changed. We want it to remain historic,” Csar said.
The society wants to continue using the vintage railroad cars for its ongoing Ticket to Ride program and tours.
“We’re hoping the new owner or lessee will allow us to continue the train cars. We are requesting it,” Csar said.
“The FEC line has an easement that comes onto the property and is a component to a sale,” Whelchel added. “We created a purchase and sale agreement approved by the [society] board and gave it to everyone who expressed serious interest.”
He sees the potential commercial use for the location in the downtown district just north of Camino Real as “an Addison-like venue or restaurant that would fit in our mission to drive the public to a commercial entity they can enjoy,” he said about The Addison, an exclusive catering and special event historic site nearby.
The next step is qualified bidders will make a presentation before the society’s real estate committee including the price, terms and “what they plan to do with it,” Whelchel said.
“Looking and planning long range, we realized it has been difficult to maintain two historical properties. We maintain town hall. It is draining to maintain two historical properties. It could be utilized more,” Csar said.