It’s safe to say that a pretty universal feeling shared by St. Louisans young and old is that once you are reminded that Union Station in fact still exists, you remember that it sucks and then start comparing amongst your friends how long it has been since you’ve been there.
Quick Quiz: Name three things in Union Station right now!
…we can’t tell you if you’re right because we don’t know either. Everyone will guess the Marriott, but after that things get hazy. Is the fudge place still there? There used to be a Hooters we think…Sbarro Pizza? Maybe? We also would have accepted “empty sadness” as an answer.
Now Union Station is up for sale and bids are coming in with grand ideas to return Union Station to it’s former glory! The lead bidders are two companies that are looking to basically just take what’s there and fix it up.
Lodging Hospitality Management, based in Maryland Heights, is working with Chesterfield-based THF Realty, a $2 billion company that develops retail centers nationwide, to buy Union Station and redevelop the site with public help. THF’s chairman and owner is Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams.
The project would encompass a $50 million renovation of the existing hotel, areas beneath the train shed and parking lots, according to a source with knowledge of the proposal. The sale is under contract, pending final details to be worked out over the next few months.
The 2nd place bidder has a far more grandiose plans in mind (emphasis added):
The runner-up redevelopment plan was submitted by Summit Development Group and Lawrence Group, whose downtown projects include Park Pacific, a mixture of apartments and offices in the renovated 1920s headquarters of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
That group had an audacious proposal for Union Station — to convert the majority of the station’s retail space to an indoor water park, said Lawrence Group’s president, Steve Smith.
We’ll give them this, it’s definitely an interesting idea. When we first read it, we thought they wanted to just buy the place and then fill it with water…suddenly and without notice. Watching the fudge people and the 13 St. Louis-themed gift shop workers running for higher ground sounded pretty sweet, but the water park idea is cool too.
Here’s what we’d like to see no matter who buys Union Station: First off, keep and update hotel. Then move the Metrolink Station INSIDE the giant train station building (we know, totally radical idea here) and kill the cheesy dirt mall stuff in favor of higher-end stores (How cool would an Apple store be in there?) and some night life locations that don’t try to just get you to buy the same shirt they all sell with the location of the place you bought it written on the front. We could really see something like that be a cool place to go park, grab a bite, take the metro to a game and then hit up the bars afterward. Sure it’s a major project, but people would come if you could do it and it would really be a great addition to the downtown area as well.
…or, you know what? That sounds expensive and difficult, so lets just put a softball field in there and call it a day. You can never have too many downtown historic location adjacent softball fields!