A handful of local historians and train enthusiasts got an exclusive look Monday at the site of the historic North Hollywood train depot after it underwent a series of a restoration efforts.
The structure at Lankershim and Chandler boulevards was built in 1896 and saw the last Red Car trolleys pass through to downtown in the 1950s. It has seen very little action since.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority purchased the site in 1990 with plans to fix it up, though most recent passers-by have grown accustomed to seeing the depot behind a covered fence.
Things were finally put in motion in May, when Miller Environmental started conducting abatement of lead paints, asbestos roofing, and hazardous soil removal with MTA footing a $264,326 bill.
Phase two of restoration will involve some more heavy duty work, such as shell and core rehabilitation of the existing structure, including new footings and seismic strengthening to reinforce the structure, according to MTA.
That effort could kick off as early as December once a contract with an outside firm is finalized, said Thomas Lee, a senior construction manager with MTA who led the brief tour around the depot.
MTA has a $3-$3.5 million budget allocated for restoration. However, it's unknown whether the work would call for more funding, Lee said.
For now, resident Bob Peppermuller says he's glad the project has gotten off the ground.
"I've love what they've done so far, because I've been watching it for the last 50 years since I've lived here in North Hollywood," he said, adding: "This has come as far as I've ever seen it go and now there's hope for restoring it before it falls down due to gravity and termites."
And gravity is certainly a threat to the historic depot. While leading the tour group around the site, Lee pointed out several large stones attached with chords to the loading platform in order to maintain balance.
Lee said phase two completion could take about a year and whatever becomes of the depot after that is still up in the air.
Guy Weddington-McCreary, a long-time champion for restoration and head of the Save Lankershim Train Depot Committee, told Patch that the site should be converted into a museum.
"What a beautiful deal, being right across the street from the new subway station, to bring students in and show them this is what it used to be like for 100 years," he said.
Peppermuller said he'd like to see a small park with a fountain on the side of the lot closest to Lankershim Boulevard, an effort that could require a third restoration phase.
Lee said another idea that's been brought up before is dedicating some of the depot to concession with tables and chairs on the loading platform.
Gary Fredburg, vice president of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, said the depot site could be a candidate for being the final home for the displaced , which is one of the oldest structures in North Hollywood.
"It would be a great place to put it, whether or not that happens is a different question," he said.
The decision of what would ultimately occupy the depot once it's finished will be up to the MTA, Lee said.
Lee said the bidding period for phase two is starting soon and should last between 40-45 days.