Springfield Redevelopment Authority Praises Design Plans for Union Station

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Photo by Mark M. Murray / The RepublicanThe Union Station building in downtown Springfield on Frank B. Murray Street is seen in this Monday photo.

 

Peter Goonan, The Republican:

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Redevelopment Authority raved over the ongoing design of the Union Station redevelopment project this week, praising its architectural beauty, cavernous space and ample natural lighting, and welcomed the modern conveniences of elevators, a parking garage and Wi-Fi.

During a meeting Monday, architect Donald Warner, of HDR Architecture, provided an update on the design of the Union Station Intermodal Transportation Center project, saying it will provide a blend of the old and new.

The project to renovate and reopen the long-vacant station on Frank B. Murray Street for train and bus travel has an estimated cost of $83 million.

The project will include a refurbished main terminal building, and tearing down the adjacent baggage building to create space for a parking garage. The garage will connect to the terminal building and will have approximately 25 bus berths on the first floor and about 450 parking spaces on 2½ floors, Warner said.

Board members of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, which owns the building, said they were impressed by the early plans. The design is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“It’s a very beautiful architecture and very beautiful facade,” said Armando Feliciano, authority chairman. “Once it is restored, it is going to maintain the original beauty and architecture, while at the same time providing some modernization for the current needs of travelers.”

The project, located along the Main Street corridor, will be a great boost for the local economy and jobs, and will spur other developments along the Main Street corridor, Feliciano said.

“It’s very exciting,” said William MacGregor, also a board member. “I think this has the potential to be a real game-changing project for the city.”

There will be dedicated space in Union Station, including ground-floor ticketing and waiting areas and upstairs offices for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and Amtrak rail service, along with other office and retail space, and possibly a day care center, according to the plans.

Warner and board members spoke about the numerous windows that line the station, providing a great amount of natural light, and the large open spaces and archways that will be preserved in the building. Union Station was constructed in 1926 and closed nearly four decades ago.

A passenger tunnel with rail platforms and stairs will be restored and refurbished, along with the addition of elevators to provide direct access to passenger rail service, officials said.

“It is really preserving the unique features of the station and incorporating modern-day features,” said Maureen Hayes, a consultant for the city on the Union Station project.

There are $27 million in committed funds for the project from state and federal sources, along with about $24 million in previously awarded earmarks and funds that will be pursued for restoration, Hayes said. Additional applications for funding are being made, she said.

The Historical Commission issued a letter of support for the redevelopment project in the fall