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New Union Station proposal focuses on customer experience

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by DCN NEWS SERVICES

TORONTO—A new proposal has been brought forth for the lower concourse, underneath the Great Hall at Toronto's Union Station, that envisions "a dynamic, customer-focused experience that includes engaging the top restauranteurs, retailers and cultural institutions of the City," explains a report.
The main foyer at Union Station in downtown Toronto, Ont.
The main foyer at Union Station in downtown Toronto, Ont. - Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The City of Toronto's government management committee recently approved the proposal, which was requested by the head lessee at Union Station, Osmington Inc.

The enhancement being proposed by Osmington and the Real Estate Services Division for Union Station is being supported by city staff, with a report stating the vision is "bold and based in high quality design that will attract sponsors, retailers and cultural events to the Station. Staff have carefully reviewed the proposal and financials, and believe that this initiative will benefit both Union Station and the City."

The report recommends to council, which still has to give final approval, that an amendment be made to the 2009 lease agreement between the city and Osmington to allow the company to "fund, design and construct enhancements to Union Station that will make it a city-wide destination for dining, retail, events and culture," the report reads.

The proposal has an estimated construction cost of $37 million, which includes a contingency of $5 million. According to the city report, the cost will be shared between Osmington, with 60 per cent, and the city at 40 per cent. However, the city's 40 per cent portion will be covered by Osmington and recovered with revenue that's generated from sponsorship and retail tenant percentage rent.

"The proposed enhancements do not require the city to use its own capital funding and presents no risk to the revenues that the City would receive in the absence of these enhancements," it reads.

While retail was already considered for this area of Union Station, the new plan does call for more food vendors and more space.

Osmington has retained a design team consisting of DIALOG Design, Partisans and GH+A for the design of the enhancements, which will result in 11,000 square feet of additional space.

"This team will implement the changes to the station when the necessary areas are turned over to Osmington by the Union Station Revitalization Project team," the report reads.

"This will minimize potential for interference between constructors and delays to the core revitalization program."

The revitalization at Union Station has made headlines because of delays and skyrocketing costs.

The initial price tag was $640 million, but has since risen to over $800 million. Substantial completion was scheduled for 2015, but is now slated for 2017.

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