The document outlines what is called 'phase two' of the renovation of Union Station. Phase one was the $50 million renovation of the Grand Hall which was completed earlier this year. Union Station was bought in 2012 by Maryland Heights-based Lodging Hospitality Management. LHM is asking the city for an $18.5 million TIF to help fund phase two.
The amusement park would be spread over 26 acres, some of it under the old train shed and some of it inside the building. There are no drawings yet, but it will feature restaurants, retail and rides, including a 200 foot Ferris wheel with heated and air conditioned gondolas. Downtown STL Inc., sees the project as a way to make the city more family friendly.
"Now, we have the City Museum, we have a bowling alley, we have a movie theater and we are going to have this great anchor in Union Station where you get to do things you can`t do in other parts of St. Louis," said spokesperson Missy Kelley.
The new 6th ward alderman says she doesn't think the TIF will be difficult to pass, but she also doesn`t think the developer will get something for nothing.
"I have asked LHM to go back and consider some public infrastructure improvements,' said Alderman Christine Ingrassia. 'I believe a good partnership allows them to get their project done as well as public improvements in the city," she said. Specifically, she said she is hoping for upgrades in sidewalks and lighting near Union Station.
Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation says it`s important to keep the size of the TIF request in perspective. "If you look at the total investment (including phase one) it is probably one-sixth of it."
A spokesperson for LHM declined to comment, saying it is too early in the process to discuss the details. The next step is a hearing before the TIF commission on January 7.
If it is passed, the plan then goes to the Board of Aldermen. Assuming it clears that hurdle, it is expected to take about two years to build.
It is also projected to create 350 jobs and draw one million visitors each year.