Union Station undergoing an $8 million makeover

May 26, 2006

One of St. Louis’ best-known rehabbed properties is getting another rehab.

The Union Station retail complex is almost midway through an $8.1 million makeover that the building’s managers expect to take until early 2007 to complete.

Union Station’s General manager Byron Marshall, of property management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, called the ongoing project “a huge commitment” to the property by its owners, Chicago-based Park National Bank. He stressed that all funding for the work was coming directly from the owner’s corporate equity.

Marshall estimated that around $3 million had already been spent on new roofing and interior restoration, plus external stone work and tuck-pointing. Further exterior work will consume most or all of the remaining budget, he said.

Gary Klotz, project manger with Union Station’s main exterior-work contractor, Superior Waterproofing and Restoration (SWR), estimates that the project will take between a year and a year and three months. “It’s not our biggest job but it’s a real nice size,” said Klotz, whose company handles 200 – 300 jobs per year worth about $13 million.

The work is part of a long-term plan by Park National Bank to revitalize the property and attract new tenants.

Park National Bank acquired Union Station after parent company, Oak Park, Ill.-based FBOP Corp., merged Regency Bank, which owned Union Station, into Park National in January this year. Jones Lang LaSalle has managed Union Station since October 2004.

“Union Station’s doing well,” Marshall said. “Hotel rates are up, occupancy is up and store sales are up.”

Marshall said the current rehab work is merely part one of an ongoing revitalization plan aimed at improving the building’s returns. He said owners and management were currently “talking with a great many potential retail partners” about the building’s future. Marshall did not mention specifics but said the group was looking at more restaurants and retail entertainment venues, and even mixed-use venues. “One thing we concluded was that it’s important not to limit ourselves to what we are now,” he said.

Union Station was originally constructed in the 1890s, underwent a $150 million restoration in the early 1980s and is home to many examples of late-19th century architecture. On re-opening in 1985, it was then the largest adaptive re-use property in the United States. Union Station holds official status as a National Historic Landmark.

Klotz said working on a building of such historic value will benefit SWR given Union Station’s size and prominent location. SWR, which specializes in restoring old structures, has recently completed restoration work on historic buildings at Saint Louis University, Anheuser-Busch and the downtown loft neighborhood.

Some of the work at Union Station already has been completed. The three sections of Union Station – Head House, Midway and Train Shed – have each received some new roofing while Head House has had its interior restored. Chiller and cooling towers have also been replaced.

Over the next 12 months or so, the three sections will receive more tuck-pointing, stone and stucco replacement, and re-roofing.

The renovation work won’t interrupt any of the scheduled displays and concerts at Union Station over the next few months, officials said.

Reprint from:
St. Louis Business Journal
May 26 – June 1, 2006 Edition

Written By Robe Luke

Photo Caption: Bryon Marshall, general manager of Union Station, estimated that $3 million already has been spent on restoration.

Photo by Brian Cassidy