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SEE WHY: Several businesses at Railroad Square will have to temporarily relocate by Sunday evening

Railroad Square management says the project will take at least two weeks
SEE WHY: Several businesses at Railroad Square to temporarily vacate by Sunday evening
Posted at 5:19 PM, May 30, 2024
  • Several businesses at Railroad Square Art District in College Town are set to vacate by Sunday evening for roof and wall repairs.
  • Railroad Square management says the project will take at least two weeks.
  • Watch now to see how business owners can find a temporary home in the meantime.


The fallout from tornado damage at Railroad Square Art District is now affecting businesses that have reopened.

"We're going to close! We're going to close for however long that's going to take."

I'm Alberto Camargo, your College Town neighborhood reporter.

I'm speaking with a couple of businesses about their short-term future, and one possible option for them just across the tracks.

This building, known as the boardwalk, is home to art studios, a vintage store and tattoo parlor among several other businesses.

It looks mostly untouched by the May 10 tornado.

But in an email to business owners obtained by ABC27, Railroad Square management says moisture in the front walls and damage to the roof must be replaced.

The work will take a minimum of two weeks.

That means owners like Bob O'Lary of Foto Studio has to move out by Sunday evening.

"All our studio lights, all our roll paper backgrounds. All our photographs, all our canvas-mounted art prints. Lots of tripods, lots of art stands, lots of lighting modifiers. So a huge amount of stuff."

One option for businesses: Domi Station.

The co-working space is offering free desk space and discounted storage for any businesses displaced by tornado damage.

"We are trying to keep our ear close to the conversations being had in Railroad Square to see if there's any way we can connect them to other resources here in town."

Other business owners I spoke with say setting up at Domi with its close proximity would be ideal.

O'Lary is still weighing his options.

"That would be ideal if we know for sure that we're coming back. And that has not been determined yet."

Railroad Square says the buildings will look better after renovations with glass storefront doors and a new roof.

Even though he hasn't made a decision, O'Lary says he's aware of the benefits to staying at Railroad Square.

"It's easy to find, it's an artist community. It has a funky vibe to it, and those are things you don't find in 99% of commercial real estate."

For the rest of Railroad Square, business continues as well as it can.

The organizers of First Friday this June say off-site parking and shuttle options are being explored.

We'll know more information next week.

In College Town, Alberto Camargo, ABC27.


Dear Business Owners of Building 630:

The remediation company that has been assessing your building has identified that the front wall of the building is full of moisture and must be torn down to the studs and rebuilt. Some sections of the side wall also must be torn out in some of the units, 2 to 6 ft from where the front wall meets the side wall. The roof also needs to be repaired.

We know this is upsetting news, as many of you have been trying to re-open. Unfortunately, there is going to have to be a period of construction on the building before that can occur. We do not yet know how much time it will take but should have a more specific timeline by the middle of next week. We do know it will take a minimum of two weeks.

Please understand that you are being credited for May 10-31, and that you will not be charged for any rent again until the building is functional. Thus, you will not be charged rent from May 10 until when the building repairs are completed. (However, if you decide you do not want to continue your lease, please let us know by Monday, and no advance notice will be required.)

We recognize that this disrupts your ability to be open for First Friday, and that this is a major blow. ACERS, the non-profit that oversees First Friday, is working on securing a space (likely the “market area” of the Greenway, just across the street from Flamingos) where any displaced Railroad Square tenant can have a table or tent. We know this is not a replacement for having your business open, by any means, but it is an opportunity if you would like to participate.

The Good News is that by the end of the repair process, your building will actually look better than it did before the tornado. We are going to install glass “storefront” doors in all spaces and the roof will be new.

Contractors will begin working in your spaces on the morning of Monday (6/3), so you have until Sunday evening to remove anything you do not want to be inside your unit while work is being performed.

To Prepare Your Unit:

Please remove anything of value. We cannot guarantee the safety of anything left in the unit during reconstruction. We have selected these contractors because they were recommended to us and we do believe that they will take the precautions they say they will take (e.g., covering belongings with plastic, only working in the front of the space, etc.), but still, we cannot take responsibility for anything that is left in the space starting on Monday, 6/3. However, anything you do want to leave inside, you can move toward the back of your space, where the contractors do not plan to be working. If there is furniture that you cannot move on your own, the contractors will move items toward the back of the space as needed, and they will cover the furniture and belongings with plastic.

We know this is really disruptive and are so sorry for what you are going through and assure you that we are working as hard as we can to get you back up and running as quickly as possible. The company that will be doing all of the work, Restore One, is a company that was recommended to us, and they will be able to move more quickly than if we were subcontracting each piece of the process to a different subcontractor.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Railroad Square leadership also shared the following information with ABC 27:

Because there is currently less parking available at Railroad Square due to some of the buildings being fenced off, we are looking into options for having off-site parking and a shuttle available, so that visitors can easily access First Friday. More information will be announced next week.

ACERS (Arts and Cultural Experiences at Railroad Square), the non-profit that oversees First Friday, and Railroad Square management are working hard to put on First Friday this upcoming June 7th. We are very proud of our decades-long track record of never cancelling a First Friday, except for during the pandemic, and the one that occurred a few days after Hurricane Michael.