Leverage $24 billion in private investment

Making Chicago's Union Station a vibrant, modern destination

From municipalities to city and state transportation agencies, governments across the country are working to identify new, better and faster ways to deliver infrastructure projects to serve residents. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is helping Chicago-area decision makers fundamentally rethink how to invest in infrastructure, deploy new financing tools when appropriate and stay committed as a region to priority investments and plans that will put us back on the path to growth.

steve-koch “The station should be a center for improved street life, thriving neighborhood development and an improved intermodal transportation hub bringing people in and out of the city. The station should be restored into a vibrant architectural landmark that draws in people into the West Loop.”

—Steve Koch, Deputy Mayor of Chicago (quote from Amtrak RFP, public record)

One urgent infrastructure improvement prioritized by the Chicago metropolitan region is the modernization of Chicago Union Station. Redevelopment of Chicago’s Union Station is a long-held passion of MPC. We envision it as more than a train terminal: It can be renovated and reinvigorated as a vibrant destination and a catalyst for growth in the West Loop, the city and the region as a whole. In February 2016, MPC held a roundtable with local and international experts to talk about the latest developments at Union Station and the next steps for realizing this vision.

MPC also helped advance “value capture” as a potential financing tool to advance Amtrak’s Chicago Union Station Master Plan, which outlines a renovation strategy that would allow for projected ridership growth on both inter-city and commuter train lines. Value capture mechanisms are a type of public financing where increases in the private land values generated by public transportation investments are “captured” to repay the cost of the public investment. Using value capture mechanisms to finance new or existing transportation infrastructure connects the benefit of the infrastructure investment with the cost to provide it. MPC supported a bill introduced in 2015 that would enable the city to create a transit facility improvement area to help fund the Master Plan, and this legislation passed in both the House and the Senate in June 2016. Transformational investment takes big thinking and a willingness to keep at it. Chicago Union Station redevelopment is a great example of how MPC works—thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow, proving the need to government, community and business leaders and being persistent to get it done.

City of Chicago

The blue buildings represent new development opportunities that could help finance critical improvements to Union Station.

Next steps

Once fully activated, Union Station will be both a transportation asset and a destination itself to anchor a growing West Loop and a thriving region. MPC will continue to share our passion for Union Station and advocate for fully funding the Master Plan to ensure this historic structure reaches its full potential.

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