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George K

Ambitious Restoration and Redevelopment at Chicago Union Station

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I was there last Thursday night. Obvious that *something's* going on, but not apparent in my walk from the Metra platforms (south concourse) through the Amtrak area to Canal street.

 

However, once I got outside, I saw that the cab stands had been moved from the east side of Canal to the west.

 

Sounds good, though, doesn't it?

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Here's a link to a live stream of the panel.

 

I've often thought Amtrak may be better at being a landlord than an operator of passenger rail service.

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I was there last Thursday night. Obvious that *something's* going on, but not apparent in my walk from the Metra platforms (south concourse) through the Amtrak area to Canal street.

 

However, once I got outside, I saw that the cab stands had been moved from the east side of Canal to the west.

 

Sounds good, though, doesn't it?

I'll be there tomorrow for the day. I'll check out what can be seen.

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I was all over Union Station last Friday and Sunday and only noticed the cab stand had relocated to the other side of Canal Street. It was a bit of a cluster, as people were trying to board the cabs that were dropping people off at the normal drop-off.

 

They also had the entrance enclosed with one of those weather tents you see at weddings and such. I'm not sure if it was because of the subzero temps or something else. To add to this mayhem, they only had one door open. The others were blocked with yellow tape and construction cones.

 

The ceiling tiles along the south concourse had been removed, but I figured that was their way of ensuring the pipes didn't freeze and perform a repeat of last year's shenanigans.

 

Also, they had another promotional photo in the lounge, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

 

Oh, and the lounge had a bunch of new, blue chairs and loveseats. The material was durable and comfortable, and the color was pretty awesome. I'm not sure how long those have been in there.

Edited by SarahZ

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"I wonder what the implication of wider platforms is." ...

 

The answer could be they will be needed because the new station will have "more restaurants", and therefor wider passengers... :)

 

Ed. :cool:

Edited by caravanman

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Interesting plans. More restaurants, mixed-use, wider platforms....

 

http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2016/02/17/union-stations-ambitious-restoration-and-redevelopment-plan.php

 

 

 

I wonder what the implication of wider platforms is.

 

Does this mean fewer platforms?

 

They are tearing out the old baggage platforms that are adjacent to tracks 8 and 12, moving the tracks where the platforms were, and widening the platforms. The two wider platforms will each receive 3 staircases and an elevator, so those platforms can be accessed directly from street level. This primarily benefits users of Metra's BNSF commuter rail service, which currently boasts more riders than any other line operating out of Union Station. There will be no reduction in the number of passenger platforms.

Edited by MisterUptempo

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I am glad the Chicago Fire Marshal wasn't around,,,, you cant put a table in front of an exit,,,, Where is Mayor Daley (Sr - "His Honor") when we need him

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As explained at the roundtable, there are mail platforms adjacent to some of the passenger platforms. The mail platforms are not currently in use--they have ramps that lead downstairs rather than into the passenger corridors. The plan is to renovate the ramps so they go into the station, rather than down, and then join the mail platforms to the passenger platforms. This will widen the platforms, relieve METRA congestion, and allow two Metra trains to load or unload at the same time.

 

One of the things you get from the presentation is a sense of how small Amtrak's operation is to the operation of CUS, present and future. It's not the primary tenant now, Metra is, and it will be even less so in the future, when the entire bldg. is occupied.

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Amtrak and the City of Chicago have chosen a winner from four developer bids for its plans to redevelop Chicago Union Station and adjacent parcels. Invoking Fair Use, posting portions of an article from Crain's Chicago Business - http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170524/BLOGS02/170529932

Chicago Union Station redevelopment gets a developer - Blogs On Politics
Greg Hinz on Politics

City Hall and Amtrak have selected a real estate firm to lead an ambitious, $1-billion-plus redevelopment of Union Station and land adjacent to the historic structure for a variety of commercial uses.

 

Winning a four-way competition is a team headed by Riverside Investment & Development, which recently completed one large office project just to the north and is in advanced planning on another.

 

Officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman are scheduled to announce they've selected Riverside to be the master developer of a project that will include renovating Union Station's now largely empty headhouse into retail, hotel and office space; constructing two 12-story residential buildings over the headhouse; developing 1.5 million square feet of new office space in two towers just south of the station, and constructing 500,000 square feet of residential space in another high-rise on railroad air rights.

 

That amounts to a total of 3.1 million square feet, all of which the city would like to be completed within six years.

 

 

-snip-

 

Riverside's project—a full contract still has to be negotiated—is separate from efforts by the city and Amtrak to get up to $1 billion in federal funds to renovate and expand the part of the facility actually used for rail operations by Amtrak and its largest tenant, Metra. But it may make the process somewhat easier, since officials will be able to say they're involved in the sort of "public-private partnership" that Trump envisions nationally.

 

 

-snip-

 

THREE PHASES

 

Under what's now envisioned, the Union Station project would be broken into three phases.

 

Phase One involves developing 110,000 square feet of retail in unused space adjacent to the Great Hall. Included would be a food hall, to be located where the Harvey House Restaurant once stood until it was destroyed in a fire decades ago.

 

Upstairs in the empty headhouse, 100,000 square feet of offices and a new hotel would be located. And above that, two 12-story residential buildings would be constructed. Amtrak says the headhouse was designed nearly a century ago with the idea of eventual development upstairs, but it never happened.

 

Phase Two centers on two office towers with some retail and parking on the block south of Union Station, on a site bounded by Jackson, Van Buren, Clinton and Canal. That's now occupied by a parking garage, which would be demolished. Officials say that will allow for green space, terraces and plazas above the station's transit center.

 

Finally, in Phase Three, a 500,000-square-foot residential building would be developed over active rail lines. That's somewhat similar the Y-shaped "tuning fork" building Riverside developed at 150 N. Riverside. The firm also has won a commitment from Bank of America to lease space in another office building that will be built at 110 N. Wacker Drive.

 

qXUK3yf.jpg

Image Source - Crain's Chicago Business

 

This is the only rendering available thus far. I would imagine that there will be plenty once Wickman and Emanuel make their public announcement. Keep in mind that the designs depicted in the rendering may be mere placeholders, so no point in critiquing the architecture right now.

 

ETA - for those wondering about the "tuning fork" building mentioned in the article, it refers to the newly opened 150 North Riverside building, built over Chicago Union Station's North approach tracks -

 

3vsT7Hs.jpg

 

Image Source - jll.com

Edited by MisterUptempo

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^^^

 

Second rendering found. This appears to be looking Southeast, from the corner of Adams and Clinton.

 

ZjqVfge.png

 

Image Source - skyscraperpage.com user "Spyguy"

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42e0318d7f03870b105f6de3eb368dcb.png

Union Station Rendering. Goettsch Partners

 

Amtrak has chosen a Chicago development firm to lead a more than 3 million-square-foot real estate redevelopment of Union Station and surrounding land, a project expected to take about six years to complete and cost more than $1 billion.

Riverside Investment & Development, led by John O'Donnell, will lead the redevelopment team, according to a news release on the project. More details are expected to be announced Thursday by the developer, Amtrak and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The total development will be about 3.1 million square feet.

In the news release, O'Donnell called it "a transformative project for the West Loop and for Chicago."...

Read the rest: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-union-station-redevelopment-0526-biz-20170524-column.html

 

peter

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Glad you advised not to comment on the architecture MrUptempo or I might be tempted to say something about the two ridiculous apartment buildings stuck on top of historic Union Station, instead of being planted on terra firma where they belong.

 

With a time frame of 6 years, and thinking about the dilatory progress being made on Moynihan Station in NYC, it will be interesting to see if the city of Big Shoulders beats the Big Apple in getting its station renovation done. Moynihan station is promised for completion in 2020 I think.

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Glad you advised not to comment on the architecture MrUptempo or I might be tempted to say something about the two ridiculous apartment buildings stuck on top of historic Union Station, instead of being planted on terra firma where they belong.

As the article points out, the original architects intended in the original 1920s plans for Union Station that a taller building would be "stuck on top". As can be seen here: https://chicagology.com/skyscrapers/skyscrapers044/

Edited by John Bredin

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Glad you advised not to comment on the architecture MrUptempo or I might be tempted to say something about the two ridiculous apartment buildings stuck on top of historic Union Station, instead of being planted on terra firma where they belong.

 

With a time frame of 6 years, and thinking about the dilatory progress being made on Moynihan Station in NYC, it will be interesting to see if the city of Big Shoulders beats the Big Apple in getting its station renovation done. Moynihan station is promised for completion in 2020 I think.

 

If they can build on top of the headhouse, and they can, it will happen. Amtrak will not leave money on the table for the sake of aesthetic purity. The design will likely be refined. If not, Amtrak probably figures that people will get used to it.

 

Regarding the residential buildings on top of the headhouse, they do look kind of silly, but Union Station was built with the idea of later constructing an office building of up to 12 floors on top of the headhouse.

 

Here is an image of that concept that John Bredin's link was pointing to...

 

KzmQ3fK.jpg

 

Image Source - chicagology.com

 

The original idea is certainly better blending, but it does resemble a ziggurat, for better or worse. I also wonder whether Riverside chose towers flanking the North and South sides of the headhouse, instead of a box that encircles the whole structure, in order to allow more light into the main waiting room. Just a guess. Also, by building to the North and South, they can flank 222 Riverside and offer some units with a skyline view. Placing a tower on the East would offer a view of only the 222 Riverside building, and, quite frankly, who wants to look at that?

 

Again, this is probably not a final design. The competition was held to find a developer, not to make final architectural choices for the structures themselves. Still, I hope that all four proposals are released to the public at some point. I would expect to see a final design for the residential to have some form of floor-to-ceiling windows, as in the renderings. Most buyers that would consider moving into the area will demand it.

 

Residential makes the most sense for that available square footage. Today's demands for new Class A office space require large, unbroken floorplates, and that could not be accomplished over the headhouse, given the physical restraints. The office space that will be developed in the headhouse will probably be for smaller firms, startups, and professionals. The twin office towers immediately to the south will provide plenty of desirable Class A space for larger companies. The immediate area is not a tourist draw (save for the Willis Tower), nor will it ever be IMO, so limiting hotel space to floors 4 thru 8 of the existing structure is probably more than sufficient.

Edited by MisterUptempo

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Here's a link to a live stream of the panel.

 

I've often thought Amtrak may be better at being a landlord than an operator of passenger rail service.

 

Boy your right there. Its often very irratating to see them go so lavish on off the rails projects and when you pay the big fare your riding in substandard equipment at the best. How about like in the past the lounges onboard are as inviting as the ones at the stations? Someone is dropping ball somewhere. Granted its most likely a money issue but Amtrak it self has never really acted like a first class operation. At least never for long.

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Isn't the headhouse a listed monument?

 

I can understand that money talks and that empty space doesn't make money, but if they must do something, why not something more in keeping with the historic character of the building?

 

Furthermore, has anybody thought about what the higher buildings will do to the amount of natural light entering the main hall?

Edited by cirdan

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Isn't the headhouse a listed monument?

 

I can understand that money talks and that empty space doesn't make money, but if they must do something, why not something more in keeping with the historic character of the building?

 

Furthermore, has anybody thought about what the higher buildings will do to the amount of natural light entering the main hall?

My guess is that the design with two towers on the North and south side of the clear roof was created to maximize sunlight. As long as this is true and no part of the structure is destroyed, I actually like the design presented in the posted images.

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Isn't the headhouse a listed monument?

 

I can understand that money talks and that empty space doesn't make money, but if they must do something, why not something more in keeping with the historic character of the building?

 

Furthermore, has anybody thought about what the higher buildings will do to the amount of natural light entering the main hall?

 

The station is designated as a Chicago Landmark. As such, any additions or alterations require the approval of The Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

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Isn't the headhouse a listed monument?

 

I can understand that money talks and that empty space doesn't make money, but if they must do something, why not something more in keeping with the historic character of the building?

 

Furthermore, has anybody thought about what the higher buildings will do to the amount of natural light entering the main hall?

My guess is that the design with two towers on the North and south side of the clear roof was created to maximize sunlight. As long as this is true and no part of the structure is destroyed, I actually like the design presented in the posted images.

 

I guess some part of the structure will certainly have to be destroyed as there will need to be separate entrances and elevators and stairwells amd whatnot. But as long as they only tear out some of the more tatty bits away from the parts the public see, and espcially leave the main hall and the facades alone, I guess this doesn't matter much.

Edited by cirdan

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