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Amtrak unveils Chicago Union Station entrance food hall plans NEWSWIRE

By Bob Johnston | August 7, 2019

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Chicago Union Station’s Great Hall
Bob Johnston
CHICAGO – A long-dormant space on the west end of Chicago Union Station’s Great Hall is set to become a conduit to booming West Loop commercial and residential activity through construction of a new entrance with access to “full interior infrastructure redevelopment,” according to Amtrak.

In 1980, a fire damaged the area formerly housing a Fred Harvey coffee shop and adjoining upscale Gold Lion restaurant. It has been shrouded unused behind a plain wall and black curtain ever since.

With more than $10 million obtained from the sale of a nearby parking garage to a developer planning to construct a high rise office building on that site, Amtrak plans to create a new entrance with a canopy along Clinton Street, reinstall the station’s original monumental windows along the western facade, and add two interior elevators.

The company’s commercial planning and development department has released a “request for interest” to potential lessees who might be interested in developing almost 16,000 square feet of retail space on two levels for a food hall and other opportunities.

Although the station has an existing food court tucked into the second level above the north and south concourse boarding areas on the east side of Canal Street, Amtrak expects the new entrance and associated development will attract foot traffic and become a commercial hub for the surrounding neighborhood in much the same way Washington (D.C.) Union Station has flourished. It will also provide new access for Amtrak passengers and Metra commuters entering from the west, who now must walk through two dark hallways opening onto the north and south sides of the Great Hall.

Two photos, Amtrak

9 thoughts on “Amtrak unveils Chicago Union Station entrance food hall plans NEWSWIRE

  1. Does the RFP actually include the Harvey House space? I got into thev damaged area on a tour in 2017. It’s indeed still a mess half a century after the fire, but it was and could again be magnificent.

  2. Chicago Union Station can use better food options, particularly sit down food. I’ve used the sit down food options in Washington, DC while changing trains. It’s useful.

  3. They’re right, the neighborhood is booming. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and clearly the market for even more.

  4. The inherent problem with CUS’ grand plans, compared with the extraordinary success of Grand Central or Wash. DC Union is the lack of massive traffic flows coming thru from subway in situ. Give credit where due, but food vendors not will be destination choices at CUS, whereas at GCT especially they are.

  5. Only 39 years behind schedule. Only Amtrak would let that real-estate sit vacant for so long. No wonder Metra would like to take control of CUS.

  6. CURTIS – Bingo on the lack of fixed-rail transit connections to CUS. Though the “el” isn’t all that far away it’s not a direct connection.

    I think of all the hikes I’ve taken to the “el”, to Metra Electric (Van Buren or Millennium) to the water taxi, to downtown attractions, etc. It can be done.

  7. @Curtis Larson: The food court at OTC isn’t suffering one bit and its downstairs from the shed entrance.

    The west loop is getting more office workers around CUS and they are looking for more eating options.

    I used to work next to CUS and it needs more food options, believe me!

    Being linked with other transit will have no bearing on its use.

  8. I always wonder what “profit center” will be allocated to the rent of CUS and other stations. I suspect the whatever the “profit” occurs to the Washington and New York stations is considered as profit to the northeast corridor trains. How that system makes money while the LD trains lose. Normal business procedures would isolate profits from the real estate ventures, exposing the real cost to the NE corridor trains.

  9. Gee I wonder what “Contemporary” food choices Ol’ Slash and Burn Anderson is thinking about offering those poor suckers, peanut butter and jelly? No, PB and J cost too much. Probably just bread….and make sure it’s day old bread, we’ve got to cut costs you know.

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