The Union Station Master Planners released a project update this week, laying out how they intend to move forward with the enormous task of improving the historic station and the 40ish acres around it. The planners have concluded, quite sensibly, that there will have to be some compromises and tradeoffs in the decisions ahead of them--for one thing, top priority in the plan will go to making the station work as a transit hub, rather than to the development of the land around Union Station. This reverses the priorities of the station's previous owners, and explains some of the site's current user unfriendliness. The report lists a loooong list of challenges facing planners, from Union Station's distance from many of Downtown's attractions and its poor connections to the surrounding site, to the mishmash of incremental changes the station has seen through the years. So instead of bringing mixed-use development to the area, the focuses of the coming plan will be: improving the passenger experience, making Union Station a destination for visitors and not just a place to pass through, and better connecting the site to its surroundings.
And since that's unlikely to all be accomplished for Union Station's seventy-fifth birthday next year, a few more immediate projects were identified for the meantime, including improving wayfinding around the station and finding new uses for underused historic and unbuilt spaces on the site. But first things first: staff will draft some options for the plans and do another round of public outreach before final alternatives are presented in September.
· Union Station Master Plan Staff Report [Official Document]
· Union Station Transit Users Want More Access, Signage, Food [Curbed LA]