TRANSIT: Despite funding threats, Amtrak has big plans for Chicago landmark

Major renovations at Union Station would restore the iconic station to a former glory

Public Transportation News June 30, 2015
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The waft out of Springfield is not promising for Amtrak, but that has not impeded the agency’s intention to make a major mark on a Windy City landmark.


According to officials, Amtrak plans to open restaurants, coffee shops and a grocery store as part of its plan to make Union Station a destination location. The agency’s new “Legacy Club,” an area where passengers can relax while waiting for trains, similar to frequent flier lounges at airports, is already open, and by dropping $10, Amtrak passengers can enjoy new furniture, order complimentary nonalcoholic drinks and access the club’s Wi-Fi. A former barbershop located inside the club is being converted into a bar.


A gutted space just off the Great Hall will be transformd into a grocery store, while another gutted space featuring street access may become home to a restaurant with outdoor dining. Moreover, a $2.2 million renovation of the marble staircase on Canal Street, replacing the worn steps connecting the Great Hall to the main entrance, is in the works. Contractors will be visiting Italy to get the same marble that makes up the existing staircase.


“We were very, very close a few years ago,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. “We are going to approach this differently now. Instead of having the developers do all the work, we’ve gutted out the space. We’ve put the fire suppression equipment in it. So it’s more ready to be developed than it was before.”


Work on the staircase is scheduled to begin July 15. The Canal Street entrances will be closed for more than two months while the work is being performed. Officials hoped to wrap up that work by October.

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