Developer, GC selected for $1 billion-plus Union Station redevelopment

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Goettsch Partners union station
Renderings from architect Goettsch Partners

A team led by Riverside Investment & Development Co. will serve as the master developer for commercial elements of Chicago Union Station (CUS) and neighboring Amtrak-owned properties, the city and Amtrack have announced.

The team includes: Construction manager Clark Construction Group; architect Goettsch Partners; structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates; rail operations interface manager and civil engineer WSP; operations, maintenance and retail concession manager CBRE Inc.; and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology engineer ESD Global. This team was chosen from a pre-qualified field of four following a Request for Qualification.

from the air union station

“This agreement will generate thousands of jobs and ensure a more vibrant future for Union Station and the entire city of Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a May 25 announcement. “The thorough planning process with Amtrak and the many partners involved in this historic endeavor will ensure this plan generates the greatest economic impact and benefits the entire region and nation.”

“This building was envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1909 Plan for Chicago as the city’s primary rail station. It is in that spirit we have big plans for both this Headhouse building and nearby properties owned by Amtrak,” said the railway’s president and CEO Wick Moorman. “We have initiated real estate developments such as this to create revenue streams to invest in our core business, to improve facilities, to provide amenities to all users of the station – and to attract new ones. We are certain we will do that here in Chicago.”

The initial conceptual design proposed by Riverside, in conjunction with co-developer and co-venture partner Convexity Properties – a DRW Company, includes three phases projected to be completed in about six years. Key project priorities include improved street entrances and pedestrian traffic flow entering and leaving Union Station, as well as improved pedestrian-friendly landscaping and open spaces.

The proposed commercial development will total approximately 3.1 million square feet at full build-out. The developer expects to create approximately 7,500 construction jobs over the life of the more than $1 billion project, as well as an additional 7,000 to 8,000 permanent jobs.

Phase One – Union Station Headhouse and Concourse Improvements

  • 110,000 sq. ft. of new and reconfigured retail with a new food hall;
  • Street level retail to be added to enhance the pedestrian experience;
  • Renovation of the Headhouse and Great Hall;
  • 100,000 sq. ft. of office space and a new proposed hotel above the Great Hall; and
  • Two new 12-story residential towers above the Headhouse.

Phase Two – New Office Towers with Retail and Parking (currently parking garage)

  • Two new 750,000 sq. ft. office towers with ground floor retail and approximately 800 parking spaces; and
  • Publicly accessible green spaces including terraces and plazas, including above the current Union Station Transit Center.

Phase Three – Plaza and Tower on Southeast Corner of Jackson and Canal

  • Approximately 500,000 sq. ft. retail and residential tower developed over active rail lines with open space and plazas at street level.

The Amtrak Board of Directors approved the Riverside proposal, based on a staff recommendation after a technical and financial review, assisted by KPMG, AECOM and Savills Studley. The board also approved finalizing financial negotiations with this developer by the end of the year.

“We are honored to have been awarded the opportunity to revitalize the commercial aspects of Union Station,” Riverside Investment CEO John O’Donnell said in a statement. “Adapting such an iconic building and transportation hub that serves so many is a responsibility we take very seriously. We look forward to working with Amtrak and our partners to make Union Station and the blocks around it into assets that serve and excite Chicago residents and commuters alike. This will be a transformative project for the West Loop and the city.”

The master developer will also engage the community and incorporate feedback from West Loop stakeholders into any development plan, the news release said.

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