Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Union Station development’

Amtrak Seeks Food Hall for Chicago Union Station

August 7, 2019

Amtrak has issued a request for proposals to develop a food hall at Chicago Union Station.

It would be located between the Great Hall and on the Clinton Street side of the terminal, which has been closed to the public ever since a 1980 fire.

The proposed food hall is expected to draw customers from among nearby office workers and residents in addition to rail passengers.

“With all the development that is going on around Union Station, we think a food hall is just a natural for this space,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

What Amtrak has in mind is not a collection of fast food outlets, but rather something featuring a little style and higher prices.

Although the requests for proposals has a deadline of Oct. 4, Magliari said that could be extended.

The passenger carrier is eyeing a late 2020 opening date for the food hall.

Magliari said Amtrak will use $10 million, part of the proceeds from its sale of a parking garage immediately south of Union Station, to fund the food hall work.

The site of the food hall would be what there once was a Fred Harvey Lunch Room.

In the meantime, workers continue to renovate the west wall area of Union Station, which hasn’t had an entrance since the 1980s fire.

Following the fire, the wall’s soaring windows and the space covered with bricks.

The renovation will involve replacing the 8-by-17-foot windows and three 9-by-30-foot windows that once overlooked the Great Hall.

Office Tower to be Built Next to CUS

December 13, 2018

Chicago Union Station will be getting a new neighbor.

BMO Financial Group said it will construct a 700-foot office tower next to the station that is expected to open in 2022 and be known as BMO Tower.

Construction may get underway next year. The company said the 50-story tower will house 3,600 of its on 14 floors.

The design of the proposed building now features less pronounced horizontal breaks at each setback and the previous X-shaped supporting stilts have been replaced by a less pronounced ‘V’ arrangement.

The building will be situated at the location of a parking garage owned by Amtrak that is located just south of Union Station’s transit center.

The base of the new building will have a 1.5-acre publicly accessible park that will conceal a 400-stall garage.

Zoning for the BMO building and conversion of the upper floors of the Union Station headhouse into 400 hotel rooms was approved last October by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council.

After public outcry, a planned seven-story addition to the Union Station headhouse was dropped.

That addition, which would have contained apartments, was widely ridiculed for its design.

CUS Redevelopment Plans Revised

September 13, 2018

Revised plans for renovating Chicago Union Station still call for an addition atop the neoclassic headhouse, but it will not be visible from the street.

Developers this week said during a public meeting that they have scrapped plans for a modern seven-story vertical addition that would have provided 404 apartments.

That design triggered widespread criticism and ridicule from those who said it would harm the historical integrity of the station, which opened in 1925.

The latest plans call for a single-story penthouse level for two hotels with 400 rooms that would be built within the existing fifth and sixth floors of the building.

The Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties plans show a a sight-line diagram demonstrating how the penthouse would be set back and screened from view.

The penthouse will encircle but not block the station’s 219-foot barrel-vaulted skylight over the Great Hall.

A pool and fitness center would also be built on the station’s lower level. The Great Hall will continue to be used by rail passengers.

Entrances to hotels will be constructed on the north side off Adams Street and the south side off Jackson Boulevard. Windows are to be installed on the station’s west side, facing Clinton Street.

A 715-foot, 1.5 million-square-foot office building with an attached parking structure and a 1.5-acre park are projected to be developed in the block south of the depot.

The development plans must still be approved by planning and zoning officials, and the Chicago City Council.

Amtrak owns Union Station and is developing it and its surrounding properties as part of a $1 billion project.

That includes $14 million to restore the headhouse interior to its original appearance.

Plans for CUS Addition Dropped

September 1, 2018

Amtrak has dropped plans to add a seven-story modern glass and steel addition atop Chicago Union Station.

The proposal had been widely criticized and even ridiculed. An Amtrak spokesman declined to comment on a report from a Chicago alderman that the addition has been dropped.

In a statement, Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward said the developer has decided to revise its vision for the Union Station redevelopment project.

Reilly said the rethinking of the project occurred due to architectural and traffic concerns. He had been among the critics of the addition , which he declared was “unacceptable by the community.”

The $1 billion addition was proposed by developer Riverside Investment & Development.

Amtrak owns Union Station and selected the Chicago-based Riverside and Convexity Properties in May 2017 to redevelop the station and its surrounding property.

The addition would have contained 404 apartments and 330 hotel rooms would be built.

Architecture critic Elizabeth Blasius described the addition as “a self-inked address stamper” while Chicago Tribune critic Blair Kamin described it as having “none of the grandeur of Union Station (but) all the grandeur of a Holiday Inn.”

The Chicago Railroad Historians called it “an abomination.”

CUS Addition Being Panned by Many

July 7, 2018

A proposal to add an addition atop the head house of Chicago Union Station is being widely panned.

The design has been sharply criticized in newspapers, on blogs and on social media.

The design by Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties proposes a modernistic, seven-story steel and glass addition.

It would have 404 apartments while 330 hotel rooms would be added to the head house of the station, which was completed in 1925.

Most critics have said the designs of the original station and the addition at incongruous.

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin described the addition as having all of the grandeur of a Holiday Inn.

“The architects are trying to create a design that they say would be compatible with, yet distinct from the addition,” Kamin wrote. “But in this case, the addition is not compatible in the least with the existing Union Station. It’s top heavy. It is a grid, a metal and glass grid that is not compatible with the carefully composed classical design.”

In The Architect’s Newspaper, Elizabeth Blasius described the addition as a self-inked address stamper.

“The proposed addition is not only an imbalance in terms of design, it’s also condescending to the station itself, the architectural equivalent of a head patting, or worse,” Blasius wrote.

Most comments on a Facebook page run by Chicago Railroad Historians have described the design of the addition as “an abomination.” Similar comments were made by some on Twitter.

However, DePaul University transportation professor Joseph Schwieterman took a more positive view.

“Having a major hotel become the centerpiece of the design will strengthen the station’s role as a premier travel center,” he said, adding that he considers much of the criticism of the architectural details is misplaced.

“The design leverages the air rights above the head house building while still respecting the station’s historic character. This is a win-win for both travelers to and residents of the city of Chicago,” said Schwieterman, who is head of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

He said the plan could make Union Station’s Great Hall a tourist attraction, saying Chicago has a dismal track record when it comes to preserving historic rail terminals.

Gone are Central Station, Grand Central Station, LaSalle Street Station, and the former Chicago & North Western Terminal.

CUS Addition Unveiled by Developer

June 27, 2018

Chicago Union Station will get a quite different look if Amtrak and a developer follow through on plans to build an addition atop the station that will house apartments, retail space and a hotel.

The seven-story addition of steel and glass would be built on top of the existing head house.

It is the second time that a developer has proposed an addition to Union Station, the first having come in 2002 and failed to materialize.

The latest plan, which is expected to cost $1 billion, seeks to make Union Station a seven-day-a-week, year-round “destination.”

Already the proposed addition, which was designed by Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties, has drawn the ire of some who say it is at odds with the original appearance of the station.

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin described the addition as “utterly underwhelming” and added that the exterior of the addition is “a skeletal metal and glass grid [that] is at odds with the station’s carefully composed classical aesthetic.”

Kamin said the addition is “one era of architecture [that] had been piled, willy-nilly, atop another.”

Amtrak owns Union Station and hired Riverside Investment in May 2017 to create a plan for further commercial development of the depot.

As part of the construction of the addition, natural light would still be allowed to illuminate the Great Hall because the skylight would be retained.

Completed in 1925, Union Station served the Pennsylvania; Alton Road (later Gulf, Mobile & Ohio); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific railroads.

The station was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.

The addition would not affect operations of Amtrak and Metra commuter trains in the Concourse building located across the street from the Head House.

The redevelopment of Union Station must be approved by the Chicago City Council and Amtrak’s board of directors.

Developers are optimistic that construction can begin in spring 2019.

If built, the addition would be similar to one proposed in 2002 by Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange that called for a 400-foot tower atops the station.

Kamin noted that Burnham envisioned Union Station as a gateway to Chicago’s west loop neighborhood and planned for an office building to be built atop the station. The foundations for that structure were laid, but it was never built.

CUS Gets Emerging Projects Agreement

January 14, 2017

The City of Chicago is joining with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Amtrak, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority to create an emerging projects agreement that they hope will be able to land $1 billion in federal funding to modernize Chicago Union Station.

Chicago Union StationBy creating the EmPA, the DOT will be able to provide technical assistance for obtaining federal credit through the Build America Bureau’s innovative programs.

The redevelopment of Union Station is a public-private partnership that is seeking to rehabilitate the depot for passengers as well as foster commercial developments surrounding the station.