Santa Fe Depot Visioning Process

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Santa Fe Depot Visioning Process - Creating a new vision for an iconic part of Shawnee's history.

UPDATE (10/28/2022): The City of Shawnee has submitted the initial application of the OKDOT Transportation Alternative Set-Aside program.
This grant, if awarded, will be used to help replace the roof and repair the depot exterior. At this time, the city is looking for letters of support from individuals, businesses, or organizations in and around the community.  A sample letter of support you can copy and paste to customize is below.


Attn: Matt VanAuten 
Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Manager 

Re: OKDOT Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Application 
Santa Fe Depot  
Shawnee, Oklahoma 

Dear Mr. VanAuten and TA Selection Committee Members: 

I am writing this letter to express my strong support for the City of Shawnee’s application to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Transportation Set-Aside Program (OKDOT TA), with the purpose of funding Phase 1 for the historic Santa Fe Depot renovation.  Built in 1904, the Santa Fe Depot is a cultural icon in the community, and the restoration of the depot can allow it to serve multiple functions for the region such as a museum, entertainment, event space, and similar place-making possibilities. 

The depot is on the National Register of Historic Places, and after spending many decades as a train depot, served as a museum for over 40 years.  The community, after a visioning process in the Spring of 2022, is looking at how the interior can be used as both museum space and other functions moving forward.  During that visioning process, it was noted that the number one priority is to preserve the depot for future use.  This first phase will ensure that takes place. 

My (business/organization) supports this project because the Depot (insert relevant information.) 

I know that the City of Shawnee is working to develop additional funding sources for the interior renovation as well as considering the use of Tax Increment Financing money for the overall depot restoration.  This will help stretch the Transportation Alternatives Grant further and allow the city to complete the project in a timely fashion. In applying for this funding, the City of Shawnee intends to preserve a historical and iconic structure that has been transformed from train depot to museum and hopefully to a museum and other uses yet again. Therefore, we fully support the project.   


Additionally, if you would like to review any of the previous administrative reports regarding the depot, you can access the city's YouTube channel here.

(6/20/2022): The visioning process for the Santa Fe Depot has been completed! Thank you to all those who provided input about how best to keep this iconic structure a viable part of the downtown and our community as a whole.  

The visioning process included a series of Town Hall meetings, a listening session, and an online survey.  The background information compiled by the City and provided to meeting attendees as well as the presentation boards are provided below in separate links.

Key takeaways from the visioning process include:
Preserve the Santa Fe Depot
Utilize the building as a draw for downtown
Continue to honor Shawnee’s history
Community support exists to combine revenue generating opportunities with a museum and community space

The next steps for city staff include:
Assist the City Commission in finalizing a vision statement for the Santa Fe Depot
Work in unison with community stakeholders to develop funding and marketing strategies
Apply for and secure additional funding
Schedule design & construction including any potential phasing
Incorporate this into larger a larger effort to revitalize downtown Shawnee

Those who attended the town hall meetings and listening session were given the opportunity to provide written comments or ask questions.  The Listening Session, if you missed it or wish to watch online, can be found here.  All questions were compiled and written responses are provided here.  In addition, the responses to Questions 1 through 5 from the Online Survey can be reviewed here.  Finally, responses to Question 6 from the Online Survey are  provided in a minimally redacted form here.  These redactions have been made to prevent the release of personally identifiable information of individuals who are outside of the City of Shawnee.

Shawnee's early economic success was fueled in part by railroads.  While numerous railroads traversed the City and had facilities here, the most striking is the historic Santa Fe Depot building, located at 614 E. Main Street.  Originally built at a cost of $65,000, this facility was initially constructed in 1903. Once completed in 1904, it operated as a train depot for the next 70 years. It is now a notable part of the downtown area, serving as an anchor for the east end of downtown and Main Street.

Built in a Romanesque style, the Depot’s sandstone architecture is unique to Oklahoma. Notable feature include a clay tile roof, high-vaulted ceilings and recessed archways around both windows and doors. The Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. From 1982 until 2021 it served as a museum for railroad and local history.  It has sat vacant since then.
Since the Depot was first listed on the national register in 1974, minor repairs have been made.  But no major updates to the building have taken place.  A study by GH2 Preservation Architects was completed in early 2021 that identified issues with the roof, water damage, and stonework.  You can also view the architect's report here.  Additional needs were observed inside of the building as well.  The condition of the Depot was the topic of a City Commission Study Session on December 6, 2021.  You can view the meeting here. The Study Session included examples of how similar buildings in other communities have been refurbished and given new life. 
Examples of similar buildings that have been remodeled include depots in Oklahoma and other states.
The depot in Littleton, Colorado was renovated into an Art Gallery that hosts various classes, shows, and exhibits. The building is owned by the city of Littleton and operated by the Littleton Fine Arts Guild. There are  art exhibits by members of the guild as well as frequent workshops and classes.
The former depot in Norman, Oklahoma is home to an arts and event venue that is available for rent from the city.  This building is home to art exhibits, concerts, weddings, and other events.  This depot is adjacent to open plaza areas that allow events to overflow outside of the building.
Ballinger, Texas repurposed their depot and utilize it as their city hall. Other cities have used their former depot buildings for offices, retail shops, or have brought life back to the structure as a train depot once again.  

The depot in Newton, Kansas is a combination of train depot and office space.

While the City owns the Depot, it needs your input on how to best utilize the property. To that end, Community Development staff is leading a community visioning process for the Santa Fe Depot.  This process will include meetings with community groups (as desired), town hall meetings, an online survey, and a subsequent presentation to the City Commission on June 20, 2022, at 6 pm,  where the community's vision for the Depot will be shared.

The City  invites you to participate in one of the identical Town Hall meetings, which are scheduled to take place in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall on the following dates:
May 24, 2022 - 6 pm
May 25, 2022 - 4 pm
June 2, 2022 - 10 am
June 8, 2022 - 11 am
June 9, 2022 - 5:30 pm
If you would like to view the presentation boards from the Town Hall meetings showing the background and potential alternatives, please click here.  If you would like to review the FAQ sheet provided to those in attendance, click here.

Update:  City staff are providing an additional meeting to solicit community input. There will be a listening session held on Tuesday June 7th beginning at 5:30 pm in the Commission Chambers at City Hall.

This meeting will feature a short presentation of material presented at the Town Hall meetings, and then provide an opportunity for individuals to share their thoughts with the community. This meeting will feature the following ground rules:
1) Approach the podium, state name, place of residence, and sign the public comment sheet.
2) State whether speaking as an individual or for a group or organization.
3) Speak respectfully. Profanity and personal attacks will not be tolerated.
4) Do not speak for or against candidates for public office, issues on a ballot pending an election, personnel issues, and city business involving arbitration or litigation are prohibited.
5) Speakers will be limited to 2 minutes, and time cannot be yielded to another individual.

Alternatively, you can provide your thoughts using the online survey found here.

To have a member of the Community Development Department speak to your civic group about the Depot and the visioning process, please call the department office at (405) 878-1665.