He first thought of incorporating the remains of the interurban depot into an office building for lease. Rice already has a 2,000-square-foot building for lease next door at 9 E First, and leases nearby space to Italian Jim's Restaurant and Bella Forte Glass Studio at 13 S Broadway, Paint Your Art Out at 10 S Broadway and Vin Dolce-The Wine Bar at 16 S Broadway.
“But I think I'll leave it as an open-air pavilion. I want to landscape out in front, with some public art,” he said, and paint a mural of a trolley car on the side of the building he has for lease next door.
The depot pavilion might be leased along with the building, as an unusual entry way with a historical twist, depending on the tenant, but he isn't sure. In any case, Rice said he's moving along with the work, making sure to respect and maintain the historical integrity of the depot building.
“I've been doing a lot of the work myself. I actually did all the tractor work. I've got a good group of guys who are helping me — they're very careful in removing the brick from the old (bricked-in) windows. I'm going to probably have to go to Dallas to find some timbers that will match the original rafters because they're certainly not the same dimensional lumber we see in construction today.”
Rice, whose law office is in a group of buildings at 17 E First, paid $160,000 for the 1,676-square-foot building at 9 E First — since mostly demolished — county records show. He did not volunteer what he has spent so far, but said he's spent more already than he thought he would.
“But if I don't have to build it as an office building or retail, then I can save a lot of money — and it will enhance downtown, and it will enhance my office complex here,” he said. “I hope to have it lit up by Christmas.”