Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chicago Union Station redevelopment moves forward

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Chicago Union Station redevelopment moves forward Amtrak

As part of ongoing work to improve Chicago Union Station, Amtrak, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) have launched several initiatives aimed at advancing iconic station’s master redevelopment plan.

The initiatives include a Request for Proposals (RFP) for designing major improvements and a Request for Information (RFI) for a master developer to lead redevelopment efforts. In addition, $14 million in Amtrak-funded 2015-16 improvements are under way, including completion of restoration of the station’s grand staircases and plans for a new passenger lounge to open in mid-2016 with direct access from Canal Street.

ATK 15 055 Event Renderings 1Amtrak, the City of Chicago, Metra and the RTA have agreed to jointly fund design services for improvements to address immediate passenger capacity, service, safety, accessibility, and mobility issues at and around the station, which is used daily by more than 50,000 Metra riders as well as numerous Amtrak long-distance and regional services passengers. Thirteen near-term (Phase 1) improvements were identified in a City-led master plan that will advance work for renovation of an expanded concourse, new or expanded entrances, platform widening, ADA compliance, pedestrian passageways and track and platform ventilation.

The work to advance these improvements, called Phase 1A, includes planning, historic review and preliminary engineering services, up to 30% design, with an option to complete. An RFP for a consultant to provide these services is under procurement, with a selection to be made this winter. Design work is expected to be completed in 2017.

Amtrak sent an RFI to local, regional and national developers regarding opportunities to redevelop Union Station and surrounding land parcels, as well as improvements to both passenger and employee facilities, all integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods. The RFI, Amtrak said, “represents the first step in the evaluation of interested parties capable of all aspects of project delivery, including an implementable Master Development Plan; designing, constructing and financing the potential operation and maintenance of non-rail assets, as well as identification of expansion opportunities and commercial development in surrounding areas in the West Loop.”

ATK 15 055 Event Renderings 6The RFI and future phases of the Master Development process “is part of a larger corporate program to leverage the substantial Amtrak asset portfolio,” Amtrak noted. “Focused on innovative strategies for sustainable financial performance and infrastructure reinvestment, this program includes additional future opportunities at other Amtrak-owned properties that will undergo a similar Master Development process.”

Plans for Amtrak-funded station improvements include relocation of a passenger lounge to double the space available for business class and sleeping-car passengers and to allow expansion of coach seating at the concourse level; replacement of door systems and heating upgrades; restoration of the 219-foot-long barrel-vaulted skylight that soars 115 feet over the Great Hall; and creation of banquet and event space in the former women’s lounge. Amtrak said these projects will be finished by the end of 2016 “and will help reestablish the Great Hall as a key passenger service location.”

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