What now for the Union Station train shed?

Downtown construction activity, including hotel projects, major renovations, office projects, streetscape improvements, etc.
First unread post347 posts
It's just such a boring building. Rainbow windows don't change that. It serves it's purpose just fine even if it's oddly tucked away under the highway.

But it doesn't look like a train station. If they don't want to use Union Station, okay, but why'd we have to build something so befitting of the name "Transportation Center" instead of a nice looking train station.

Give me Champaign, IL's (1999) or Normal, IL's (2012).

Champaign, IL
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Normal, IL
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St. Louis, MO
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I hate seeing that $31.4 million was spent building such a forgettable structure even if the logistics of it are great.

I try not to be the curmudgeon-type. I try to embrace what's done and see the positives not the negatives. But our "transportation center" just bothers me.
I just wish they had built it two blocks west of where it is, just south of the US instead. The current station woefully lacks amenities and union station woefully lacks foot traffic. Could have turned the old "back in" tracks on the US's west side into pull through bus terminals for mega us and greyhound. Also should have built the metro bus terminal over the US metro link platform making it fully covered from the elements. Would have cost more but would have been far better for the city. Hoping Amtrack outgrows the current station so that the city can work toward this vision someday.
captainjackass wrote:
Honestly, if they (who?) built a nice shed over the Gateway station platforms, with a nice StL logo on both ends, it would look all the more the part of a bonafide train station. Plus, people using the platforms would be free from the elements.


Amen. Would also be nice to see Debaliviere & Central West End Metrolink Stations get roofs high over the platforms and tracks to protect riders from the elements and give the stations a more substantial feel. Something simple and structural would do wonders:
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jstriebel-- I think our train station looks MUCH better than Champaign's and Normal's. Both of those look pretty generic to me. I'm really glad the new station didn't opt for a "traditional" design, because it's so overdone in St. Louis and most often looks boring and schlocky.
I really want to agree with you, but I just can't. You can argue ours fits the design of the Scottrade Center to the north, but beyond that, it really doesn't match the environment. Although due to it's placement, there's not a ton of environment to match anyways, I suppose.

But mostly I just prefer the classic brick design, a design that would fit very well in St. Louis. Sure the ones in Champaign and Normal aren't amazing, but they fit the environment around them, and they have a certain staying power. Ours looks odd and in my opinion dated. It's not exactly cool odd either, IMO.

And the experience inside is lacking too. It's not a place to enjoy waiting for your train or bus or enjoying your arrival to St. Louis, but simply a place to pass through, hopefully without much delay.

Back to Champaign's, one thing I really like about it is the way it echoes a lot of the design of it's precursor. Not to an exact degree. And the new one is certainly cheaper looking and a bit less exciting, but they sit across the street from each other (side by side, not facing) and compliment each other extremely nicely.

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Train service isn't coming back so it doesn't make sense to argue the point.

So what does everyone think about the new improvements to Union Station? Good? Bad? Meh?
downtown2007 wrote:
Train service isn't coming back so it doesn't make sense to argue the point.

So what does everyone think about the new improvements to Union Station? Good? Bad? Meh?


I wouldn't call them "bad", but darn close to it. Very underwhelming so far.
I'll take a wait-and-see approach, but Gary's comment upthread about not being able to get to the Great Hall, etc. w/o a hotel key is concerning.
roger wyoming II wrote:
I'll take a wait-and-see approach, but Gary's comment upthread about not being able to get to the Great Hall, etc. w/o a hotel key is concerning.


You can, but you have to go outside and through the main entrance.

The sealing itself off from the mall is just one of many negatives.
Union Station: I think it's too early to give a full judgment on progress within Union Station just yet. Right now, I'm more concerned with the possibilities of ancillary construction to Union Station (namely the space between 20th and Harry's Bar, 64/40 to Market). Build something substantial there, and it could have broad effects in how to utilize Union Station. I'd rather be a little more patient and have something matching to the new build-out (whether a series of small structures, a la NorthSide's plans, or a giant new multi-use structure) than have LHM just start building "something" as quickly as possible.

Side note: On Downtown's Amtrak station, let's remember it's called the STL Gateway Multimodal Transportation Station. It's made to host Amtrak; Bi-State buses; and Metrolink, all within the confines of 64/40 overhead. It's a great design for the needs of modern multifaceted public transportation in contrast to auto transport. I'd think that'd be more popular on these threads. Those other train stations in Springfield and Bloomington? Sure, they're real nice, but they're made by IL going massively into debt and really look a lot like Fifth Third Bank branches in West County.
I'm totally wait and see with this. Nothing sounds overly impressive, but it could be cool. It doesn't have to be hugely impressive to be successful, either.

If they're successful in bringing in office tenants, and retail following that, I think this will be a success. It's the daily foot traffic that will make or break this place.

A cool bar and the light show will be enough to bring some people in, but in order to bring people back, they need to be convinced that other people will be there and what to be there, too.

So if the offices are full and those workers are visiting the retail and stopping by the bar, it will go a long way towards bringing other people in.

I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic.
Same as everyone else. Like that something's happening, cautious until it does (and does so well).

Grand Hall redesign: I love this space how it is, especially the intricate designs on the ceiling and walls. Worried how much a laser-projection likely conflicts with the Hall's beautiful classicism.

St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame: Early rumors point to a build-out within the Midway, which seems like the right move. It'll fit in to the existing Union Station, rather than be jammed into it (ahem...Hard Rock Cafe). Plus, with FSMW holding office space in the Post Office Annex under the trainshed, there should be an easy opportunity for some sports-focused events and outreach. Maybe with them, FSMW and easy access to 2 of 3sports venues, more sports-focused events (conferences, rallies, etc.) and businesses (Lockerdome, MVC, Rawlings, etc.) consider a move to Union Station.

Trapeze School: I'm very excited by this, if for no other reason than the fact this means LHM recognizes the possibility of different uses for the trainshed other than a g-damn parking lot. I'm hoping the summer season trapeze school opens the door for even more trainshed activity, such as a winter season ice rink:

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Hotel upgrades: Meh. I don't know the business and likely will never stay at Union Station (I really think the Embassy Suites on Wash Ave. is my new favorite). The best way for the hotel to succeed though is for the Station to not be a desolate joke of its former self.

Excursion trains: Great idea, but we all want MORE. Somewhere down the line, I'd like to see this serve as a Commuter Rail hub too (think of Chicago's Metra) bringing people downtown from the City and suburbs on both sides of the river (not to be confused with Metrolink, which desperately needs its own Southside line).
Kevin B wrote:
Somewhere down the line, I'd like to see this serve as a Commuter Rail hub too (think of Chicago's Metra) bringing people downtown from the City and suburbs on both sides of the river (not to be confused with Metrolink, which desperately needs its own Southside line).


At the risk of deviating too much from the topic at hand, I think this is one of the biggest problems with the Metrolink. It's trying to be both Chicago's Metra and Chicago's El because that's exactly what it's tasked with being.

It's regional urban transit. And no, those things don't go together.

Not that you can't have regional connectivity and urban connectivity under the same umbrella, but they need to be built out separate from each other. Instead every new Metrolink project is so hampered by having to be "regional" it tends to be lacking in both categories.

But I digress.
I was thinking about Union Station after reading about KtheK's experience earlier this summer. It seems like Union Station should try to expand upon their Polar Express success and put together a similar adult version in the summer. If once a week in the summer there were train rides with cocktails, live music, or some sort of themed entertainment I wonder if they would sell out/pack the house the way the Polar Express does?

Off the cuff, I'd say each week should center around a different aspect of trains to cater toward a slightly different audience every time. For example one could be prohibition/speakeasy/cocktail classes. One could be a lecture about history of trains or American train travel. One week could be stories about Major League Baseball train travel as told by former players and pair it with a hotel stay and tickets to Busch the following day. The train experience could be paired with a hotel stay for each week, actually.

Couldn't hurt to try if it's as idle as it sounds.
^ I believe they are planning to do more regular excursions but haven't gotten beyond an occasional trip yet. I'm also very curious how things stand on their amusement/destination plans.... it sounded like things were on the fast track when they announced it late last year and I thought perhaps they already had some good tenants lined-up. But apparently it is taking longer than planned.

Also, I think it is kind of odd their website doesn't list the all of the shops there; just lists Landry's, Hard Rock and Station Grille.
http://www.stlouisunionstation.com/
^ I don't think it is odd that they list a group that are most likely to be recognized.

Curious also on status of their next entertain phase and wonder if LHM could pull off some good regional marketing for downtown. Downtown St. Louis can put together a pretty good weekend/long weekend on top of sporting from pro to NCAA and annual events, etc. that will only get better in 2016

- Arch/Arch Grounds & Old Courthouse
- City Museum
- City Garden
- Blues Museum
- hopefully more planned or regular rail excursions
- etc.

Still think a water park under the shed would go over well. LHM can also market Forest Park pretty heavy with metrolink station at its door front. I wonder if they are even thinking more rooms in the future.
Planet Hollywood!
roger wyoming II wrote:

Also, I think it is kind of odd their website doesn't list the all of the shops there; just lists Landry's, Hard Rock and Station Grille.
http://www.stlouisunionstation.com/


Because there aren't any.
There are shops. Don't be hasty.

I noticed this just the other day on their website too. I was going to email them for the story.
There's going to be a pretty big event this weekend at US with the Strange Folk Festival.
http://www.strangefolkfestival.com/
Yeah Strange Folk and Q in the Lou. That entire area should be hopping.
Saw workers on the train shed roof this morning. I'll be really excited if the plan is to completely restore/paint the huge structure. Anyone have details?