Union Station To Undergo Major Upgrade Beginning in 2016

By Natalie Boesch
In Culture

Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) is partnering up with Philadelphia’s Groundswell Design Group to renovate Union Station and revitalize Downtown St. Louis. Together, they are investing $100 million in order to expand the National Historic Landmark as an entertainment center.

Photo courtesy of Union Station

Photo courtesy of Union Station

Inside Union Station, a section of the shopping space will be converted into 48 railroad-themed hotel rooms (which Todd Hotaling of LHM promises will be “gorgeous rooms like St. Louis has never seen before,”), and 30,000 square feet will be added to the existing 107,000 square feet of space reserved for private events. An additional 75,000 square feet is being considered for “a major family attraction,” but the potential plan has yet to be revealed.

LHM has plans for Union Station’s exterior, as well. A 200-foot-tall observation Ferris wheel will be built near the Hard Rock Café, complete with 42 gondolas that fit up to eight adults each. Snag the VIP gondola for an even more exciting (or frightening) experience: With a glass floor, your feet will seem to hover over St. Louis, but the leather bucket seats and stereo system will calm any height-related anxieties.

In addition to the Ferris wheel, old train cars will be transformed into cafés in a new verdant outdoor plaza space which will feature live music, festivals, local market stands and fountain and fire shows on the lake.

Once you can take your eyes away from the attractions outside, even walking into Union Station will have an entirely different feel with a Garden Glow-esque archway leading up to a new entrance at 18th and Clark. Every half-hour, the lights in the passage will dance to music in a “tube light” show.

Todd Hotaling is confident that the Union Station renovations will bring locals and tourists alike into the Downtown area. “LHM has a history of taking landmarks and revitalizing them and making them an attraction for St. Louis,” he says. “As we develop that area and get programming in there—as far as events—that will continue to attract additional travel and business Downtown. This first phase is just the start of it.”

We won’t have to wait long to enjoy the improved Union Station: Construction begins Feb. 1, 2016.

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