Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Viva Union Depot!

Yesterday, I checked out the Union Depot lofts in downtown St. Paul. What an amazing concept--putting residential units inside of a train station! While I still don't fully understand the relationship of the lofts to the train station (were they old offices in the depot?) it is pretty incredible to enter the project by walking through the grand foyer (now home to Christo's restaurant). Nice train stations (even ones that aren't currently in operation), unlike any airport, still capture the romance and excitement of travel. The beautiful arched ceilings, the meticulous brick work, the way your footfalls echo from the floor into the cavernous space...this sure would make coming home an experience.

Union Depot has a bit of an uncertain future, depending on the alignment of the Central Corridor Light Rail project. For those that want to see the station serve as transportation hub, they are pushing for the LRT to terminate in the back of the station where there is a HUGE concourse that could serve as the link for rail-lines to other destinations. Yet for those who want to keep project costs down, the LRT would terminate in front of the station.

St. Paulites, which would you rather, our current Amtrak station out on Terminal Road or a beautiful and functioning Union Depot?

Take your pick!

Images: Iowa State Train Club, Phillip Crandon on Picaso, and Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority.

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