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Mural-Covered Bus Depot Reopened to Pedestrians

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The Richmond Street Art Festival was so successful in converting the GRTC Transit System’s old bus depot into a mural-covered wonderland that a cruel conundrum emerged in the event’s aftermath: Walking among the collection of windowless, brick warehouses suddenly was desirable but impossible.

After the festival, the fenced-off space again was closed to visitors. After all, the grounds basically remain an abandoned industrial site -- albeit, now a festive one -- and liability is a concern. Organizers had to take out a $2,000 insurance policy just to hold the three-day event.

“It’s five and a half acres for someone to trip on and sue,” says Ed Trask, who planned the event with 1st District Councilman Jon Baliles. “But it does feel like a tease.”

GRTC administrators who manage the space understood that sentiment, and said Friday they’d reached an agreement with their insurance carrier allowing them to reopen the space to walkers.

“I’m with the community on this,” GRTC’s Stephen McNally says. “I definitely want the artwork to be open for public viewing because it’s so cool -- it really should be shared with the public to get as close as they want to be.”

Pedestrians will be able to enter seven days a week through the Grayland Avenue gate between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., McNally says. No public parking is allowed on site, and all of the buildings will be locked down.

With access resolved, McNally says the transit company is going to work with the city and the neighborhood to determine what kind of development might be a good fit for the site. That process will begin in earnest in January, he says, and with a request for proposals from developers issued as early as February or March.

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