What's Next for CSX's Huntington Property?
CSX announced in January it was closing administrative offices in downtown Huntington. That means the loss of 121 administrative jobs, but it also leaves the question of what happens to the building when CSX leaves.
The rail company announced that it will consolidate administration divisions from 10 to 9, moving administrative responsibilities from Huntington to five other divisions in Atlanta, Baltimore, Florence, Great Lakes and Louisville. CSX will continue running trains in the area and will keep open its Huntington locomotive shop.
But what happens to the hundred –year-old, 31,000 square-foot building on 7th Avenue when CSX closes? That could happen as early as this summer. David Lieving, is the President and CEO of the Huntington Area Development Council or HADCO.
"I think it’s important that it not remain vacant for a long period of time," Lieving said. "I think it’s a testament to the fact that there are a lot of committed people in Huntington that want to see it be repurposed and reused, and frankly it’s an opportunity and I think people recognize the historical significance and many people would probably like to be part of that and play in whatever role they could in seeing that the building is being used again for something productive."
HADCO has offered its help to the city with efforts to find a tenant or tenants for the facility and to even help in the negotiations, if needed.
Spokesman Bryan Chambers says the city won’t comment on talks between Mayor Steve Williams and CSX on what will happen to the facility. Lieving, though, said it’s important to make sure the facility is used in a productive way.
Lieving said CSX is still evaluating what they have in the building. He said they’ve approached them about the possibility of a donation of the property to the city, but ultimately it’s a wait-and-see game.
Jacqueline Proctor is with the Create Huntington. The group focused on coming up with creative ways to help the city flourish, has been full of ideas for the building that was renovated in 1995.
Some of those ideas focused on the use of the facility as something of a museum to highlight what CSX and trains mean to a city named after a railroad pioneer in Collis P. Huntington.
"I and other people could easily see retail shopping space, a restaurant, someone suggested at our last meeting they would love to see another live musical venue like a jazz club," Proctor said. "We most certainly could see administrative office space being there on the upper floors and perhaps an educational space not only about the city of Huntington and Cabell County and Wayne and all that, but our train history too."
Proctor said whether the city can obtain the property or a private owner does, they just hope that it can be used in a productive way.
Messages were left with CSX, but they did not offer comment.