Yearly Archives: 2012

Union Depot $243 Million Restoration Completed in St. Paul

December 8, 2012

“Explore, Experience, Embark” Celebration marks public’s first return to renovated icon since 1971

ST. PAUL, Minn.—(Dec. 8, 2012)—Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) today commemorated the end of construction of the $243 million historic restoration of the 90-year old Union Depot train station and the return of transportation services to the iconic structure.

The “Explore. Experience. Embark. The Journey Begins Again” community celebration is the first time since 1971 that the public has been able to walk through the historic 27,000-square-foot waiting room that welcomed immigrants settling in Minnesota, orphans sent westward to new homes, soldiers departing or returning from war, travelers, redcaps and porters who worked at the Union Depot and many more. The last passenger train left Union Depot in 1971, and in 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Festivities for the free daylong December 8 celebration include tours of the historic Union Depot, historical performances and reenactments by Bedlam Theatre, artists, music, dancing, food from Lowertown restaurants and an information fair showcasing transportation features of Union Depot.

December 8 also marks the first day that Metro Transit buses arrive and depart from Union Depot, with some 300 arrivals and departures scheduled every weekday. In addition, in early 2013 Jefferson Regional Bus Lines will move its St. Paul station to Union Depot. Later that year One on One Bicycle Studio will open a state-of-the-art bike center and Amtrak will relocate all passenger activity from its current station in the Midway area of St. Paul to Union Depot. In 2014, Central Corridor Light Rail—the Green Line—will serve Union Depot on Fourth Street.

“Today we celebrate an important milestone for Union Depot,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, chair of the RCRRA. “Construction is completed, the public again has access to this grand neoclassical structure, and Union Depot will return to its original purpose of being a regional destination and transportation hub.”

Restoration of the near century-old depot, located on a 33-acre site along the Mississippi River, included returning its original 1920s color scheme through complete repainting and plaster restoration of the waiting room and head house; reconstruction of the carriageway; and returning the Fourth Street entrance to its original design. In addition, new construction involved rebuilding the train deck and tracks and building a new multilevel passenger drop-off entrance with ticketing and baggage counters.

Mortenson, design-build contractor for Union Depot, with URS Corporation and HGA Architects, worked to assure that all aspects of the project met historic guidelines of the State Historical Preservation Office and Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission.

“We are honored to have the privilege to restore Union Depot to its original grandeur,” said Dan Mehls, Vice President, Mortenson. “Workers on this site recognized the significance of their work in preserving historic memories and laying the groundwork for future growth and development in the Lowertown neighborhood.”

In summer 2012, RCRRA contracted with national retail management company, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to manage Union Depot operations and lease commercial retail space. JLL currently operates historic train stations in Chicago, New York and Washington, D. C., and is in the midst of planning for Union Depot’s future.

“This site, in the heart of the lively artist and entertainment district of Lowertown, offers businesses an opportunity to interact with thousands of residents, employees and visitors, as well as passengers arriving daily on mass transit,” said Rick Balow, JLL manager of Union Depot. “Union Depot will be a vibrant destination offering food, fun and enjoyment for all.”

In addition, the historic building will soon be the site of some $1.25 million in public art, commissioned from America’s best public art innovators. Among the public art installations, which will be installed in 2013, will be a suspended kinetic sculpture in the Kellogg Boulevard passenger entrance and historical wall murals in the waiting room that celebrate the site’s multicultural roots.

RCRRA executives are planning a series of celebrations 2013 to mark milestones of the return of Union Depot as a regional transportation hub.

“We will be recognizing each transforming event in Union Depot’s new life as the Living Room of Lowertown St. Paul, from the opening of the bike station to the arrival of Amtrak and Green Line LRT trains,” McDonough said. “When you’re in St. Paul, you are going to want to stop by and see us.”

RCRRA to negotiate with firms for property management, development services and bicycle center operation at Union Depot

May 15, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 15, 2012— The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) has conditionally approved the selection of two firms that will play a critical role in the activation and development of Union Depot. Today’s action by the board allows county officials to begin negotiations with the firms.

In December 2011, RCRRA began an open solicitation process for selecting partners to provide property management services and oversee a leasing and development plan to activate the newly restored transportation hub. Additionally, RCRRA solicited for a private partner to design and operate a state-of-the-art bicycle center.


If negotiations are successful, Jones Lang LaSalle will provide property management and leasing/activation services for the historic Union Depot. The company is one of the world’s largest commercial real estate firms and the largest third-party retail property management firm in the U.S.

Jones Lang LaSalle has extensive experience in the management and operations of transit stations including Union Station in Washington, D.C., Chicago Union Station and New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. The firm employs more than 200 commercial real estate professionals in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region, has a corporate office in downtown Minneapolis and serves as property manager of Rosedale Center and Calhoun Square and leasing agent for a 2.8 million- square-foot portfolio of office properties.

“Jones Lang LaSalle understands the importance of establishing Union Depot as a great public place in Lowertown and in downtown St. Paul, which should serve as a catalyst to spur nearby commercial and residential development,” said Commissioner Jim McDonough, chair of the RCRRA.

If selected, the firm will take over the day-to-day property management of Union Depot, including general facility management, building operations and maintenance, cleaning and security. Additionally, the firm will implement a retail development plan for Union Depot, leveraging significant investment in new transportation services and the restoration of the monumental architecture to create a vibrant, active place for shopping and arts or cultural events.

“Our experience overseeing leasing and management at a variety of other major transportation hubs across the U.S. gives us a unique insight that we are eager to leverage for the benefit of Union Depot,” said Mark Hunter, Senior Vice President and Midwest regional head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Retail division. “We share the RCRRA’s vision for Union Depot as a ‘community center’ and economic development engine and look forward to helping revitalize the property to that end.”

For more information on Jones Lang LaSalle, visit


Pending successful negotiations, One on One Bicycle Studio, Inc., has been selected to design and operate a bicycle center on the ground level of Union Depot. The center, with entrances and storefront windows facing Sibley Street, will feature secure bicycle storage, showers and lockers for commuters, bicycle repair and retail services. In addition, they plan to operate a café and art gallery, providing grab-and-go foods for commuters, gourmet soups, sandwiches and organic, fair- trade coffee.

One on One Bicycle Studio is a leader in the bicycling community. In 2003 One on One Bicycle Studio became the first bicycle + coffee shop in Minneapolis—located just a few blocks away from the Hiawatha LRT line in downtown—and has been an important part of the Twin Cities’ rise to the top of the national bicycling scene. Expanding the business into St. Paul at Union Depot allows One on One Bicycle Studio to bring arts and community based events that have drawn thousands of residents, bicycle enthusiasts and recreational users to their shop in Minneapolis’ historic Warehouse District.

“We’re really excited to become part of this project, and the energy that is going on in Lowertown,” said Gene Oberpriller, co-owner of One on One Bicycle Studio.

Learn more about One on One Bicycle Studio, the company’s events and commitment to active, healthy lifestyle choices at


Under the direction of the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, the 33-acre Union Depot site is being transformed into a state-of-the-art multimodal Midwest regional transit hub, bringing together rail, bus, motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Union Depot renovation will be complete at the end of 2012, and services will include Amtrak, light rail, local and inter-city bus service, taxis—and in the future—commuter rail and high speed rail to Chicago. For more information visit, or follow the Union Depot on Facebook at