Back on Track: How US Cities Are Reinventing Their Train Depots

As environmental and lifestyle concerns alike push governments to curb car use in cities, New York is far from the only big U.S. metropolis that’s seized the moment to reimagine its central rail depots. Train-centric renovations can often bring magnificent spillover effects to their surrounding neighborhoods as well.

Denver Union Station

A local lodging developer, Walter Isenberg, agreed to invest in a new hotel attached to the station, the Crawford Hotel, which today commands some of the city’s highest nightly rates. The group also picked up a critical $6 million historical tax credit from the National Parks Service. Additional money came from the U.S. Department of Transportation in the form of a $145 million loan, proceeds from the sale of $18.4 million worth of land and a voter-approved allocation from FasTracks, the city’s ambitious effort to build more rapid-transit, as well as several other public and private sources.

Los Angeles Union Station

L.A. may be famously resistant to mass transit, but Los Angeles Union Station, a 1939 mission-revival structure, nevertheless serves as a major intermodal hub. (“Union stations” are so-called because they were designed to serve multiple rail operators, “uniting” different companies’ services.) Amtrak and commuter lines combine for a total of 188 daily trains, and the station also hosts more than 1,000 buses each weekday — which, in addition to the station’s subway stop, combine to serve more than 100,000 passengers daily. There’s also an effort to find a private developer to build and operate an adjacent hotel — an initiative that drew direct inspiration, it turns out, from the Denver project.

Washington Union Station

Starting in 1981, Congress allocated tens of millions to the station’s restoration and funded the station’s transfer to the Department of Transportation, emphasizing a renewed focus on passengers. Crucially, when the station reopened in 1988, it included a much-increased retail presence, including a basement food court, as well as a movie theater that remained in use until 2009.
“The restoration and renovation … became one of the area’s great success stories,” the Washington Post wrote in its 1994 obituary for Keith Kelly, the executive who led the effort. His work garnered awards from the Urban Land Institute and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Hatteras Sky to Develop Salt Lake City Union Station

The Union Station hotel project is centrally located in Salt Lake City’s Downtown Neighborhood at the intersection of South Temple and North 400 West. The site features an 88-walk score, 77-transit score, and an outstanding 90-bike score. The hotel will be housed in the historic Union Pacific Depot train station, an iconic 110-year-old property. Originally built in 1908, the building is directly connected to The Gateway mixed-use commercial center which features more than a million square feet of shopping, dining, entertainment, and live / work accommodations on-site. The proposed development will include the conversion and expansion of the Union Pacific train depot building into a mix of hotel rooms and retail, as well as a central event and lobby spaces.


Read the entire Commercial Observer article HERE.

Learn more about the Salt Lake City Union Station project HERE.