St. Louis Union Station set to get a major makeover

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Union Station
NEW PROJECT IN THE STATION: Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns Union Station, has announced plans to transform the interior and exterior of the National Historic Landmark, including the addition of a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel to position the property "as one of the region's premiere gathering and entertainment destinations.” Work is slated to begin Feb. 1. – Groundswell Design Group photo

Job-creating development is one of many under way in the region

The owner of St. Louis Union Station announced last week plans to transform the interior and exterior of the National Historic Landmark, including the addition of a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel and a possible new "major family attraction," all of which will create hundreds of  jobs for local union members.

St. Louis-based Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns Union Station, is teaming with Groundswell Design Group of Philadelphia to position the property "as one of the region's premiere gathering and entertainment destinations.” Work is slated to begin Feb. 1.

The plans include a new "food-train park" under the facility's train shed, added green spaces, light shows, and a fountain and fire show at Union Station's lake.

The indoor mall area will be converted into 48 train-themed hotel rooms and 30,000 square feet of private event space. Hotel guests will receive personalized "train tickets" for their rooms at check-in. The conversion will bring the total number of rooms at St. Louis Union Station Hotel to 487 and its event space to 137,000 square feet.

Another 75,000 square feet of indoor space at Union Station is being considered as the site of "a major family attraction," with details to be announced this spring, Lodging Hospitality officials said.

The project represents another step up the ladder in economic recovery for the region.

OTHER PROJECTS

  • SSM Health last fall announced a $500 million project build a new Saint Louis University Hospital tower. The facilities will include a new hospital, ambulatory care center and academic support spaces, and will be located in the immediate vicinity of the current hospital. SSM has selected Lawrence Group in partnership with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson (HGA) as architects for the project.
  • The Lawrence Group also recently announced a $104 million project to redevelop the Federal Mogul Century Foundry site at 3700 Forest Park Ave. with a food market, office and retail space, and 250 residential units.
  • Several hotels have also received or are in the process of getting facelifts, including a $30 million overhaul of the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel and $22 million spent on The Courtyard by Marriott St. Louis (formerly the Renaissance Suites Hotel).

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And that’s just to name a few.

Add to that an estimated $1.6 billion project to build a new National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA West) facility and the floundering of the new stadium proposal for the erstwhile St. Louis Rams begins to fade in comparison.

That’s the good news, says Jeff Aboussie, secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council.

“That was a big hit for us, but you can’t depend on one big job to satisfy you forever,” Aboussie said. “We always have to be moving on to the next deal. The stadium would have been great, but now we have to focus on the NGA.”

KEEP ’EM COMING

If there is a downside to the recent development news, it’s that all of these projects seem to be coming together at the same time. That’s good for now, but it doesn’t give the building trades unions time to increase their numbers – bringing in and training new apprentices to get the job done.

“To have these all starting at one time, it really doesn’t help us grow and we have to keep reaching out to other people,” Aboussie said. “That’s great at the time, but it’s not helping us in the long run. We need these projects staggered out and we need to keep them coming.”

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