Downtown spotlight: ‘Railgating’ at Adams Street Station

A portion of Adams Street Station
A portion of Adams Street Station

A short way down East Adams Street between the St. Johns River and EverBank Field, you’ll find a gated area that looks a lot like an old railyard. Nineteen standard boxed-shaped railcars and five red cabooses are scattered about the property, all sitting on real train track. And that massive 80-foot one parallel to the front gates? It’s a former dining car of the St. Louis Railroad.

And then you see what’s different.

There’s an outdoor grill located on the south end of one of the railcars. A wooden deck with porch furniture connects to the dining car. And a Jaguars logo on the back end of one of the cabooses looks equally out of place yet very much at home.

This is Adams Street Station, a community of 26 genuine railcars turned into luxurious escapes for tailgating, parties, business meetings and countless other functions.

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One of the cabooses of Adams Street Station

“It really is a best-kept secret,” said Linda Daniels of CRES Commercial Real Estate, which manages the property.

According to Daniels, Bill Sistare, former owner of Southeast Specialties (KNA Quantium Rail) – which refurbished railcars – had the idea to refurbish the cars based on a concept in Columbia, S.C. Sistare teamed up with several local entrepreneurs to make the project a reality, with Jacksonville’s Super Bowl in 2005 the birth of Adams Street Station.

“You’re within minutes of EverBank Field,” Daniels said. “Just the ambiance of it is electric. It excites you to be here.”

With supporting the Jaguars its No. 1 intention, the railcars were turned into “entertainment suite” condominiums, sold to a variety of buyers. Both individuals and businesses own the cars, using them for tailgating and other social gatherings and meetings.

Interior of one of the railcars
Interior of one of the railcars

“You have your own private Shangri La,” Daniels said, “and you can use it for meetings throughout the year.”

Most of these railcars are home to kitchens, bathrooms and decor you’d see in any apartment or house – flat-screen TVs, couches, dining tables and, in a least one railcar, a shower. It’s just one more unique aspect that makes Downtown Jacksonville, rich with its own railroad history, a unique place to entertain.

“Instead of tailgating, you need to railgate,” Daniels said. “You haven’t tailgated until you’ve railgated.”