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MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Chamber of Commerce should complete its move into the historic Cleveland, Akron & Columbus (CA&C) passenger depot by the end of April, said chamber Executive Director Carol Grubaugh.
She provided the News with a brief tour Thursday of the CA&C depot building, which is accentuated by marble floors in a spacious, open lobby area that formerly housed waiting train passengers. Included is a ticketing window area where chamber office assistant Anthony McNeal will be stationed. Grubaugh will share a large office area with Debbie Ruggles, chamber program coordinator, who plans all events for a membership totaling 416 businesses and organizations.
There is also a conference room for about 25 people, and spacious bathrooms for public use. The main marble-floor lobby area will stay with open space, and benches along the walls, with racks on the floor containing brochures and visitor guides. The CA&C Railroad, which was in heavy use in the early 1900s, had numerous stops spanning from Columbus to Cleveland, which included Mount Vernon.
In effect, the Chamber is moving from its current site at 400 S. Gay St., a former freight depot that was home to several businesses including Boxcar Video, into a more spacious, picturesque train depot building at 501 S. Main St., known for its marble flooring that was uncovered more than six years ago when various stakeholders took on its renovation and restoration. Renovation was completed in 2014.
Then new CA&C location is just over the Viaduct Bridge spanning across the Kokosing River. It is situated beside the Kokosing Gap Trail and Heart of Ohio Trail bike path, with Ariel Foundation Park within easy walking distance. Stepping out the back of the building into a large open area, one can view part of downtown Mount Vernon including the Kenyon College Wright Center. A picnic shelter on the property beckons visitors.
“It’s a wonderful location and a beautiful historic facility,” Grubaugh said. “We’re proud to be a part of maintaining it.”
The CA&C depot building is owned by the city of Mount Vernon, and leased to the Foundation Park Conservancy. The Knox County Chamber of Commerce, which has already received its keys and signed its lease, will be a sub-leasee of the conservancy. Grubaugh said she did not have information at hand when asked how much the chamber will pay for its yearly subleasing.
The chamber began occupying its current former Boxcar Video building on South Gay Street in 2005 and purchased the property five years later for about $85,000, she said. Currently, the chamber is in the process of offering a sealed bidding process to its members who are interested in owning the current chamber location at 400 S. Gay St. The chamber board hopes to offer the site to a winning bidder with a final deadline for bids of April 18.
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