Amtrak seeks private partner for Chicago station

The US passenger rail company has issued an RFQ for the redevelopment of Chicago’s Union Station.

After receiving feedback from local, regional and national developers late last year, Amtrak has released a Request for Qualifications as it seeks to partner with the private sector in revamping Chicago’s primary commuter rail station.

The US rail passenger company, which owns the station, is seeking to team up with an entity that will create an “implementable” Master Development Plan; design, build, and finance the potential operation and maintenance of non-rail assets; and identify expansion opportunities and commercial development in surrounding areas in the West Loop. The plan must also take into consideration growing passenger volumes, Amtrak said in a statement.

“Amtrak believes that bringing in private equity through a Master Developer can best achieve the desired outcome that optimises CUS as an asset that serves more than 33 million travellers and commuters per year,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s executive vice president of infrastructure development.

According to the statement, the project will entail redeveloping not only the station but also surrounding land parcels, as well as improvements to both passenger and employee facilities. Specifically, the Amtrak-owned area within the RFQ is 14.07 acres, which includes 613,075 square feet of total land area and 1.3 million total square feet of building area, in addition to 1,679 parking spaces and about 3 million total buildable square feet of excess rights.

Amtrak, which did not disclose a cost estimate for the project, had not responded to a request for comment by press time. Interested parties will have until 1 July to respond to the RFQ.

Last October, Amtrack announced 13 near-term improvements (Phase 1) that the company, in collaboration with the City of Chicago, Metra (the city’s commuter rail) and the Regional Transportation Authority had agreed to jointly fund. These include an expanded concourse, new entrances, wider platforms, improved disability compliance, larger pedestrian passageways and new ventilation in the track and platform areas.