Depot in Mystic to reopen as retail-restaurant site

Depot in Mystic to reopen as retail-restaurant site

The Westerly Sun


STONINGTON — Closed since March 15, the historic Mystic Depot will soon be open again, this time as a café and gift shop that could also be used by Amtrak passengers.

The concept was approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night.

“We’re very happy it was approved so quickly,” said David Crompton, who along with his wife, Sherrie, will own the business. “We are renovating the outside now and will be doing the inside as well. We’re excited and hope to be open in a few months.”

The “retail-restaurant,” as it was called in the application, will be known as Mystic Depot Roasters. It will be able to seat eight customers and have no table service. According to the lease agreement with National Railroad Passenger Corporation, an additional 10 seats must be available for train passengers.

The café will feature its own custom blended and roasted coffee.

“We will also have a gift shop that will feature Mystic items and maybe some depot-related items,” Crompton said.

The couple are not train or depot enthusiasts; they simply fell in love with the building, constructed in 1905, and thought it was a shame not to have it open.

“It’s a beautiful building and our renovations will help revive it,” Crompton said. “All the bathrooms are being redone and it will be quite a facility when it’s completed. We hope to revive it to its once glorious past.”

As another condition of the lease, the building, at 2 Roosevelt Ave., will remain open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., making it once again available for passengers.

“It will essentially reopen the train station,” said Town Planner Keith Brynes. “In staff’s opinion, it doesn’t constitute a restaurant that needs a full-blown special use permit according to the zoning regulations.”

As for parking, the zoning regulations offer no standards for train stations. The Mystic Depot has 34 spaces on site with several dozen more in the area in the public right-of-way.

The depot will also have an automated ticket kiosk to accommodate the 400 passengers that use the station on a weekly basis. Crompton told the commission he looked forward to having the station serve the public. “It will be a welcome center,” he said.

The depot’s previous tenant, the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome Center, vacated the building in March because the lease expired and they could not come to a mutual agreement with Amtrak. Since then, the train has continued to stop at the station but there is no access to the interior of the building, including the waiting room, restroom and ticketing services. Passengers boarded the train at Mystic but only with an eTicket or a reservation number.

The depot was erected by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, and features Georgian Revival elements such as Palladian windows, large windows that are divided into three parts. It is the third depot to stand on the site.

The depot was also used by the American Flyer Manufacturing Company, a maker of toy trains, as its model for a train depot.

msouza@thewesterlysun.com


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