MICHIGAN CITY - The city's redevelopment commission has purchased the old South Shore community train station.
The RDC bought the abandoned structure, last used in 1987, for $200,000 from Campo Development Group LLC.
Commission president Don Babcock said the facade of the building could be saved to give riders an historic experience walking in and out of the new train station if proposed double tracking and other upgrades become a reality.
If the upgrades don't materialize, the building will remain to preserve the history in that part of the city as part of the ongoing revitalization of the downtown area.
"We believe whether the double track project goes through or not, that it is valuable for the community to have control of this historical building in the city," Babcock said.
Babcock said the rest of the building on East 11th Street could be torn down and more parking created on an existing lot behind the train station, but a final decision regarding a partial demolition has not been made.
"It just depends," he said.
Whether it's just the facade or the entire building, it will likely have to be moved a short distance to the north to provide room for the double track to come through.
According to archives, for 60 years multiple trains ran to and from the old station 24 hours a day and the 5,000-square-foot main level included a diner and arcade area. Packages were also handled before being placed on trains for delivery.
"All of those things that went on in that building over the years, it's just been a part of the history of Michigan City," said Chris Schwanke, president of the Michigan City Common Council and supporter of the proposed double track.
In 2013, plans for a restaurant in the structure emerged but never materialized.
Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties have each agreed to put up $18 million toward the estimated $290 million commuter line upgrades aimed at decreasing travel times to and from Chicago by up to one-third.
Application for $145 million in federal dollars is expected to be submitted in the fall. Half of that amount in state funding is contained in legislation currently moving its way through the General Assembly.